Edmonton man looks forward to watching himself in Amazing Race Canada
When word got out at a slow-pitch tournament that Edmonton’s Cory Mitic competed in the first Amazing Race Canada with his brother Jody, the notion of playing baseball almost became an afterthought.
“Everyone was freaking out,” says Cory, 32. “It was kind of nice, actually. People obviously really love that show.”
The depth of that adoration almost gave the show’s executive producer John Brunton a nervous breakdown. In all, more than 20,000 people from across Canada sent in audition tapes when CTV announced it was searching for nine two-member teams to compete in the show’s inaugural season for a grand prize worth $500,000.
“We were just blown away,” says Brunton. “The response was about 10 times bigger than what we had imagined. I think that speaks to the huge fan base there is for the program, and what an appetite there was for us to make the show available to Canada. “There was a pent-up hunger for it.”
While the process of winnowing down the list was daunting and time-consuming, Brunton said selecting Team Mitic was a no-brainer. “Those two brothers represent something very, very special,” he says.
In their audition tape, the pair promised to bring “lots of bleeps, comic relief and fireworks” to the race.
Cory said they delivered on all counts. “People are in for some entertaining TV,” he predicts, laughing.
He said spending 24/7 with Jody, who lives in Ottawa, strengthened their already-strong bonds, but it also gave him a deeper appreciation of the challenges his older brother faces every day.
In 2007, Jody, now 36, was a master sniper with the Canadian Forces on deployment to Afghanistan. While on patrol, he stepped on an explosive device and suffered catastrophic injuries, losing both of his legs below the knee.
“I had a moment, well, more than a moment, really, where I was pretty angry (when I heard the news),” recalls Cory. “I think it was about five or six hours later I was watching the news, and was reminded that soldiers were coming back, dead. It wasn’t a rare thing, either; it seemed like every week or every other week soldiers were flown back in a coffin. And that wasn’t going to be the case for Jody. He was alive. He was still here.
“I knew he was strong-minded and physically fit. And I knew it was something we could get through.”
Cory was living in Toronto at the time and spent countless hours by Jody’s side during his recovery and rehabilitation. A year later, the brothers took part in a five-kilometre charity run together, after Jody was fitted with his prosthetic feet. Cory flew back to Toronto specifically to attend the event; by then, he had moved to Edmonton to take a job as a labour relations officer with the Health Sciences Association of Alberta.
He said going into the race, the pair had a motto, one that had served them well during Jody’s recovery — never quit.
Their biggest challenge was keeping on top of potential skin breakdown issues caused by Jody’s prosthetics.
“Something quite small could end up being pretty big if we weren’t careful, especially when you’re on your feet so much and running so hard.”
They bickered occasionally — they are brothers, after all — but they always made sure to focus on the task at hand, while still taking the time to cherish what they knew was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“During the race, I was constantly thinking: ‘Is this really happening?’ It was pretty hard to believe, actually. We felt very fortunate to be picked as a team.”
Brunton said the Canadian version essentially follows the same format as its Emmy-award-winning counterpart in the U.S., with the requisite U-turns, road blocks and fast-forward passes. In a uniquely Canadian twist, however, Olympic gold medallist and host Jon Montgomery will also participate, demonstrating some of the daring challenges the racers will have to face. Teams will have criss-crossed 23,000 kilometres of the Canadian countryside by the time they cross the finish line.
Filming took place in May, when it was still winter in the far north.
“One day we were up to our eyeballs in snow and two days later we were experiencing 80-degree Fahrenheit weather,” he says, laughing.
He says viewers will see teams travel through urban centres as well as to the most remote outposts in the land, all while exploring the country’s broad cultural and ethnic diversity, wildlife and iconic landmarks.There is already talk about the possibility for Season 2, Brunton says, which may take teams to the South Pole, through the Americas and back to Canada. Or, perhaps through the Commonwealth countries, from India to parts of Africa.
“There are a lot of exciting possibilities for the future,” says Brunton, “but for the first season we decided to wrap ourselves around the flag.”
Cory, meanwhile, along with his new-found friends from the recent ball tournament, plans to meet at the Central Social Hall (10909 Jasper Ave.) to watch the first episode. Anyone is welcome to join them, he says, although he admits to being more than a little nervous.
“I don’t know to describe it. I’m kind of uneasy, but not in a bad way. It’s going to be strange to watch myself on TV, and especially to see how they edit it. There are nine teams, and it’s an hour-long episode.
“That’s a lot of editing.”