“We Were Out of the Loop" – Reality News Online's Exclusive Interview with The Amazing Race 19's Andy & Tommy
by Teeuwynn Woodruff -- 12/12/2011
Andy & Tommy (right) won six legs of The Amazing Race and seemed such shoe-ins to make the finals that the remaining three teams cheered and celebrated their loss. What do Andy & Tommy think of that reaction? How did their faith shape their race experience? And what do they think was their weakest feature as a team? All this and more inside!
Reality News Online: Hi, Andy & Tommy! Thanks for talking to Reality News Online! How are you doing?
Andy: Oh, we’re doing good. Wasabi!
RNO: What made you decide to apply for The Amazing Race?
Andy: We have my wife to thank for that. It was her idea. I actually applied with her and she was the force behind it. We were definitely fans of the show. And Tommy applied six years ago, right?
Tommy: Yeah, like five years ago.
Andy: We’re both fans of the show and when it came up that [the producers] wanted me to go on the show with another Olympic snowboarder – Tommy Sheen’s my man.
RNO: You were definitely the powerhouse team of the race, but were you surprised at the reactions of the final three teams when they found out you weren’t going to be in the finals?
Andy: Yeah, they were stoked that we weren’t in it. I was watching some extra clips on the CBS website and Phil was asking them, “Who’s really excited that Tommy & Andy are not going to be in the finale?” All of them were just cheering and raising their hands and carrying on.
RNO: Well, that’s a compliment. You both excelled at most of the challenges on the race, but the ones with more of a puzzly bent didn’t seem your forte. Why do you think that was?
Andy: Because we’re snowboarders. We throw ourselves off cliffs and bang our heads on the ground.
Tommy: Our brains have been through the ringer.
Andy: When most people go to college, we were travelling the world, snowboarding – doing the X-Games and the Olympics. That’s where our education is – we got our master’s in snowboarding and travelling.
Tommy: We knew where we were going to be weak going into it.
RNO: You had a comfortable lead going to the final challenge before the Pit Stop this past leg. But the challenge to find the Pit Stop’s location looked incredibly difficult. Did you try to look at the skirts or did you only concentrate on the jewelry?
Andy: We searched those girls head to toe. We looked all over their skirts, their medallions, their hair, the bands that held their hair up… We looked on their eyelids. We thought for sure it was on the girls, but we couldn’t find it.
It turned out Panama Viejo was only on one of the dresses and you could only see it when she held her skirt open. To see it, you almost had to be standing back about 20 feet in front of the right girl when she stopped dancing.
RNO: So only one girl’s skirt had the answer? Yikes!
Andy: Yes, just one girl. It was a very, very tough challenge. Jeremy is the only one who was able to get it correct – and he didn’t even read the dress! Jeremy drew a picture off of the belt and then his taxi driver knew where to go from there. It was a very, very tough challenge.
RNO: It looked that way. How far out of your way did you travel looking for “Balboa?”
Tommy: We did a full tour of Panama City.
Andy: Yeah, we can tell you where all the sites are.
Tommy: One way it was probably 25 minutes to the Panama Canal which, on the way, we passed the town of Balboa. We thought we were doing good and then when the guy drove past we were like, “Why’s he going past this?”
We saw the same building that Jeremy drew a picture of and, since the word Balboa was there, we thought it was a building that had to do with [explorer] Balboa. Then we went to the town and we started to see Balboa on a bunch of buildings. Balboa was just way too broad.
Then we realized the guy was taking us to the Panama Canal.
Andy: At the Panama Canal we talked to the guy who sent us to the statue [of Balboa]. We felt pretty good about that one. Then we got there and realized that wasn’t it.
RNO: Did your taxi driver ever get into the chat loop with the other three taxi drivers?
Tommy: No, definitely not. We were out of the loop.
RNO: Even though the other teams didn’t want them to do so, the other taxi drivers were sharing information with each other.
Andy: That was funny how you could tell they didn’t want [the drivers] to share information.
RNO: How far behind the other teams did you get to the Pit Stop? Do you know?
Tommy: I don’t really know. It had to be a little bit. It was one of those things where Andy and I knew we could have been in last, but we absolutely weren’t going to give up. We went 110% until we figured out that challenge and were standing on the mat in front of Phil. We were a little bit back, but we ran as hard and fast as we could.
RNO: We saw a couple of times on the race that your faith is important to both of you. How did you feel travelling to sites that are holy or significant to other religions?
Andy: It was cool to see some of the architecture and buildings – I think it’s part of the cultural experience. People have asked if we got weird vibes, and the answer is no. We’re sound in our faith. We believe for a reason. God has shown his love to us, and I took a stance to make a point for what we believe in.
Tommy: It was definitely cool to go see all of the manmade stuff – the temples and all that. But I believe that our God is bigger than a temple or a place. It was definitely really neat to see all that. I just believe our God is bigger than any temples or buildings.
Andy: That goes for Christian churches too.
RNO: Beside being in excellent shape, how do you think being Olympians affected your race?
Andy: I think being Olympians, we have a lot of heart and determination – that’s what got us into the Olympics. We didn’t take no for an answer. We keep going until we reach the goal, you know?
Tommy: Just being Olympians in the U.S. The U.S. has the deepest, best group of riders. So, to make the Olympics for snowboarding in the U.S. you gotta be crazy determined and give it your all.
All of our experience travelling and being professional snowboarders for 15+ years definitely came into play.
Andy: And not crumbling under pressure!
RNO: What was the smartest thing you did on the race?
Andy: I don’t know if we can take credit for that. Can we, Tommy? (laughs) The smartest thing we did was turning around and seeing the sign to give all our money to the orphanage.
RNO: And what was the most memorable moment on the race?
Andy: I really enjoyed Thailand and navigating through those islands. Also, just experiencing the different culture in Africa. Every location we went was different and rad in its own sort of way. And just meeting all the different teams – it was a great bunch of teams this year. The whole thing was a great experience!
RNO: Is there anything else you would like to tell our readers about yourselves or the race?
Andy: The race is a mirror image of how you deal with real life. It’s a really cool thing. A lot of people are pretty harsh and negative when they see what goes down. Those are the people who are going to struggle on the race. You gotta keep your head up, keep good attitudes, and keep plugging away – even when it’s a challenge.
Tommy: The Amazing Race is true reality. It’s like life in that you can get through anything – you just can’t give up – whether it’s in life or the race. People can get through anything that’s thrown at them.
RNO: Thank you for talking to me today. I have to say I didn’t expect to talk to you until after the finale!
Andy: Thank you!