The Amazing Race 17: Exclusive Interview with Chad Waltrip and Stephanie Smith
by David McAlpine and Gina Scarpa
This week, on The Amazing Race, the dreaded double U-Turn reared its ugly head and claimed Brooke and Claire and Chad and Stephanie as their victims. Chad and Stephanie, who were already in last place, were unable to complete both tasks in enough time and were the last team to arrive at the pit stop. However, what they gained on the race is more valuable than a million dollar prize. Chad proposed on the race in the country of Oman, the two were married this past weekend, and Stephanie is expecting! Today, we caught up with the happy couple to discuss their experiences on the race and what they took away from it.
Q. David, RealityWanted: Whose idea was it to try out for The Amazing Race?
A. Stephanie: It's a funny story, actually. I tried out with my girlfriend a year ago and we were first alternates. So I called CBS trying to get my passport back because they held onto it in case a team dropped out and they could replace us immediately. So when I called, they asked me how I was doing and they wanted me to go on the race with Chad. I was hesitant at first but it was definitely the right choice.
Q. David, RealityWanted: Were there any teams that stuck out to you initially on the race as your biggest threat or competition?
A. Stephanie: When we first started the race, we thought Ron and Tony were going to be a huge threat. We really hit it off with them, and then they ended up getting eliminated first.
A. Chad: It really showed how evident that it was anybody's game.
Q. David, RealityWanted: Did you work with any of the teams along the way?
A. Stephanie: The race is so unpredictable. It's hard to have a strategy and you can't plan on getting the directions you need, too. We had a good relationship with Jill and Thomas and with Gary and Mallory, but I think we were all really kind to each other on this race.
Q. David, RealityWanted: Chad, you said you were planning on proposing to Stephanie on the race. What made you chose Oman as the place to do it?
A. Chad: I didn't have a plan as far as where I was going to do it, though I really wanted to do it on the mat with Phil. When we landed in Oman, Stephanie was so floored and really excited to be in the Middle East and she was talking about how she always wanted to go to Egypt, and then we found out that we wouldn't be racing again until the next morning, so I couldn't have asked for a better time. So as the sun came up, I decided I'd do it.
Q. David, RealityWanted: Stephanie, did the team dynamic change at all after you were engaged as opposed to before?
A. Stephanie: It did sort of change out attitude! it goes to show that being positive, working together, feeling united makes a huge difference. That was one thing that was struggled with in the beginning and that leg could not have ended any better. Not only were we shocked we won, we almost thought we were in last when we got to the mat.
A. Chad: It was definitely great! I think proposing to Stephanie and us being engaged, it brought us closer to becoming one, you know? From that point on, it wasn't about me or about her, it was about us, and that made a big difference.
Q. David, RealityWanted: The weather seemed brutal in Bangladesh! What was the climate like there?
A. Chad: It was very overwhelming. The sheer mass of people and the heat was really hard. It was cooking all the smells and the trash in the street, so you were going in and out of layers of smells--dead animals, smelly water, exhaust, trash, it was horrible, plus traveling through the streets was very confusing and frustrating.
A. Stephanie: We were already exhausted when we got there, so running around, feeling like you had no clean air to breathe and getting lost wasn't fun.
Q. David, RealityWanted: Had there been no double U-Turn, are you confident that you'd still be in the race?
A. Chad: Oh yeah, we would have beat both those teams if we hadn't gotten U-Turned. We were moving much faster than both of them.
A. Stephanie: And at the very beginning of the leg, we got bad directions and it carried through the rest of the tasks.
Q. David, RealityWanted: Are you upset with Nat & Kat for U-Turning you?
A. Stephanie: Nat and Kat played their cards well, you know? If it would have been us, we would have done the same thing. No hard feelings here, because it's a game and they had to do what they had to do.
Q. David, RealityWanted: What is the biggest thing you took away from running The Amazing Race together?
A. Stephanie: Culturally it was so enlightening and we really appreciated it. It's kind of a bug now, we want to travel everywhere. We were like that before, but we're even worse now and trying to explain to everyone how great it is to travel the world isn't easy when they haven't do it themselves.
A. Chad: Personally, I definitely learned not to try and force Stephanie into doing anything and that I need to work together with Stephanie to make decisions and to let her make some of them herself. Once we started doing that, we got a lot further in the game, and I'm still working on not coming off as brash.
A. Stephanie: It was kind of like international couples therapy!http://www.realitywanted.com/newsitem/3866-the-amazing-race-17-exclusive-interview-with-chad-waltrip-and-stephanie-smith