Fresh snow, adorable dogs, a country with incredibly prompt trains, and cheese, lots of glorious cheese -- what could possibly go wrong? Apparently, a lot, as the six remaining "Amazing Race" teams found out when they traveled 5,000 miles from Africa to Switzerland on leg eight.
Despite the enormous head start the hockey brothers had earned from completing the Fast Forward in the last leg, all teams wound up starting on even ground thanks to everyone booking the same flight to Zurich. But the roller moms and Team YouTube made the episode's first mistake by missing the connecting train from Bern to the alpine village of Grindelwald. Of course, the other teams high-fived each other too soon, as they realized once they reached the high-altitude hamlet and found a sign saying the shepherd wouldn't arrive by sled-bike until the next morning.
When the shepherd came the following day, all 12 contestants made it to the church on time and were told to take the train to Kleine Scheidegg and pick up a rescue dog outside the historic Bellevue Hotel at the base of Eiger mountain. Running for the station through the snowy streets proved trying as the effects of exercising at high altitude started to kick in, Meghan ate it, and team redneck began bickering in the first block. The sprints and sass proved futile, as there was almost an hour before the next train. Wynona was already crying because Chuck was "just constantly disappointed" and was "mad because [she] was 12 seconds behind everyone." The Mullet defended his nagging as "egging her on to maybe get a little bit more hustle out of her."
Some viewers felt he went too far:
If Chuck keeps pestering Wynona, he will be sleeping with the dog in the doghouse back home.#AmazingRace— Travis Glover (@1975jetsfan4) April 15, 2013
Once the teams had collected the canines, they were instructed to deliver them to their human counterparts at 11,000 feet above sea level at the Jungfraujoch, Europe's highest railroad station, and search the lookout center for their next clue. The singers benefitted from their alliance with the hockey brothers when their headstrong hound decided she wanted no part of all aboard and Anthony helped drag her aboard. Despite the chivalrous act, the dog ended up getting all the kisses he had earlier coveted from his race girlfriend.
The Roadblock -- climbing out an observation window and inching around the rocky north face of Eiger to retrieve a Travelocity gnome -- provided mountain highs for most teams, although a few found themselves falling behind again. Wynona got hung up on a scary curve, lost steam, and didn't complete the challenge fast enough to please the Mullet. Team YouTube, who were stuck behind them in line, by default missed the train that all the other teams caught to go back down the mountain, which made it a two-team race to avoid last place.
Back in Grindelwald, the other four teams followed the sounds of the alphorn to the Switchback clue, which put a new spin on one of the series' hardest challenges ever. This time, teams had to climb a very steep (as in a rope was provided to help the players ascend what appeared to be an almost vertical section) snow-covered hill, pick up four 50-pound wheels of cheese from the shed, and deliver them to the cheesemonger via old-fashioned sled back at the bottom. It still seemed brutal, although less brutal than the classic version that used the rickety wood backpack contraptions and involved a manure-covered hill.
Viewers seemed excited to see the fromage flashback:
The hockey brothers were first to the top, naturally, and quickly figured out their technique of sitting in front of the sled and letting the weight of the cheese provide momentum. Most teams followed their lead, although the others unfortunately found themselves stuck behind Katie and unable to pass when she couldn't find her footing during the rope portion. Bates and Anthony hightailed it to the Bodmi Snowboard & Ski School, nabbed first place yet again, picked up a trip to Bora Bora, and continued to make hockey fans proud.
Roller moms took second, the newlyweds got stuck behind a cow crossing but still came in third, and the singers placed fourth. It was down to two duos battling on cheese hill. Team redneck really struggled, slogging up the hill on hands and knees with Chuck trying to carry "both sleds and her ass." Obviously, the YouTubers finished the physical task first, but they couldn't find a taxi to deliver them to the pit stop, so they hoofed it the whole way. Meghan was exhausted to the point of bawling and losing speed quickly. Back on the hill, team redneck ditched the sleds and rolled the wheels down instead.
It seemed like the comeback of this installment when they landed on Phil's mat first, until he informed them that they had incurred a 30-minute penalty for not using the sleds. Meghan fell apart when she saw the other team. "We should've taken a taxi. We're last because I wasn't quick enough." When Phil gave them the good news, Joey chimed in: "This race is so unpredictable. This has been the best time of my life, and I'm glad we are still in it."
Their fans were happy to see them stay, but one warned:
Joey & Meghan have to step it up!! I cant have this heart attack for every episode! That was a close call for them!!! #amazingrace— Anwar Rizalman (@ANWARRZLMN) April 15, 2013
Watch a preview for the next episode:
"The Amazing Race" airs Sundays at 8 PM on CBS.