SALT LAKE CITY — They went to 10 countries, 21 cities and traveled more than 29,000 miles. There were 11 teams when “The Amazing Race” started, and Jen Hudak of Park City and teammate Kristi Leskinen, both previous professional skiers, were in the final three in Wednesday’s finale of “The Amazing Race.”
The pair, dubbed Team Xtreme, were the first to reach the final challenge aboard the USS Hornet.
“It will be this season’s most difficult test of both physical endurance as well as mental strength,” said host Phil Keoghan of the final challenge of season 30.
However, they weren’t the first to complete it as the finish line awaited on the other end of the flight deck. Ultimately, they were third. Former “Big Brother” contestants Cody Nickson and Jessica Graf were first to the mat and won the $1 million prize. Former Yale debaters Henry Zhang and Evan Lynyak were second.
“We may not have won the final prize, but we're not walking away empty-handed. We'll be reliving these memories for years to come and have formed life-long friendships with people we raced against and the extension of the TAR family,” Hudack wrote in a post on Instagram after Wednesday’s finale. “So, one last time: Thank you!!!”
Throughout the race, Hudak and Leskinen were in the top three in each leg, including two first-place finishes. They were also a strong team and very positive throughout the season, even faced with setbacks.
“It’s pretty unbelievable that you finished on the podium of every single leg of this race,” Keoghan said.
The final challenge was to collect 12 pieces to a large model airplane, which only needed six of the pieces. The pieces had two symbols representing each leg of this season’s race. They needed the six pieces that didn’t have any duplicates.
“You had to have each leg represented somewhere on the plane,” Hudak said.
It took more than an hour running through the Hornet to find the pieces and then to attempt to put it together. Hudak took a methodical approach, but after multiple checks, and all of the teams arriving, it was anyone’s game. Graf and Zhang were working on their planes, too, and it was difficult for all three of them as their teammates watched and cheered.
During the two-hour episode, the four remaining teams had raced from Thailand to Hong Kong, and Hudak and Leskinen fell behind when they had a seemingly misdirected taxi driver taking them to Victoria’s Peak, where they had to find a photographer.
Then the detours were either wrapping crabs in typhoon-like weather or taking several restaurant orders in Cantonese and relaying them to a teammate in the kitchen, who would then serve from labeled dishes. Hudak and Leskinen picked wrapping the crabs, which included wrapping 50 of them. For all teams, their next clue was in halves hidden in a pile of electronics they had to beat with a bat. They then raced to a street known for its nightlife where they had to find three signs that represented three legs of the race and use those numbers to unlock a briefcase.
The briefcase revealed the intersection where host Keoghan was waiting to check in teams.
Hudak and Leskinen were third to check in behind Zhang and Lynyak, who also had to complete an extra challenge during the race. Zhang’s language skills helped them through the restaurant challenge. Nickson and Graf were in second. Keoghan went to find Indy car drivers Alex Rossi and Conor Daly to tell them they were out.
The final leg took teams to San Francisco, where they raced to AT&T Park and the Willie Mays “Say Hey Kid” statue. There, their next clue told them they were fishing baseballs from McCovey Cove and had to get the ones that corresponded with Mays’ career home runs, which was 660.Comment on this story
Hudak and Leskinen asked for help from a passer-by, so that when they were in the kayak, they could get the baseballs with the correct number on them. Their next challenge was a road block that took them to the Bay Bridge, where one of them had to pull themselves up 200 feet and then take a free fall through the middle of it, which Leskinen did. They were second after this one as they headed to their next challenge, which was for each team member to fold 50 fortune cookies.
From here, Hudak and Leskinen were first to the USS Hornet for the last challenge.
“It was truly an amazing experience to run this race,” said Hudak at the end of the episode.