The Amazing Race
Despite going from first to last, Ivy League a cappella singers Connor Diemand-Yauman and Jonathan Schwartz ended their Amazing Race run on a high note, serenading Phil Keoghan at the Pit Stop. "We knew we wanted to sing for Phil and we knew it would be poetic if we sang if and when we were eliminated," Schwartz tells TVGuide.com. "Because it was on our graduation day [from Princeton University], we thought it was a cool, ironic moment. There was no sadness, no tears." But there were still moments the 22-year-olds "would rather forget" on the show's first-ever trip to the Arctic Circle.
TVGuide.com: That was one of the happiest eliminations I've seen with you singing. You obviously knew you were last, right? How far behind were you?
Connor: Oh yeah! It was relatively close. When you keep things in perspective, I think it's difficult to be super-crushed. We get to see amazing places and are competing for $1 million. We both feel pretty lucky to have had the experience.
Jonathan: When we switched from Sleds, we thought we were last. Once we got to Beds, we were so excited to see two teams. We thought, "If we really book it, we could get there." When we saw them leave, we thought we were last, but there was a slim chance that maybe they took the wrong turn driving to the Pit Stop.
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TVGuide.com: Why didn't you look for earlier flights to Sweden?
Connor: We did. I think there was a small language barrier. The staff a couple of us spoke with told us that there were no flights that we could make. I think what they meant was that they wouldn't advise passengers to go for the earlier flight because it was so tight [between changeovers]. We got unlucky in that none of the people we spoke to suggested this flight. ... We were really discouraged [when we learned four teams got on the earlier one] because we slowly saw our lead dissolve away.
TVGuide.com: You did well up until the Detour. Why did you choose Sleds?
Jonathan: We thought we were decently physical and we'd go for the quick-and-dirty challenge. ... You hear "sledding," you think it's a sled, but this was an extreme course on a contraption with serious banks. You could still fall a bunch and make it, so we were very close to making it.
Connor: What made it tough was that Jonathan, compared to the other contestants, was so inconsistent. He would miss it by 15 seconds and then by a minute. Then it'd be by 1 second and then 2 minutes. Every time, we thought we should try again because we got so close, so it was difficult for us to give up. If Jonathan had started crying like Stephanie, we would've switched right away. [Laughs] Because he did so well and then did poorly, we decided to stick with it and that's what cost us time. It was that Jonathan did relatively well that it screwed us over in the end.
TVGuide.com: How many times did you do it?
Jonathan: We did five tries. The first, I was about 8 seconds away. The third one, I was 1 second. We did 1:58, just like Gary and Mallory. We did two more and by that time I was so beaten up that I said, "I can't do this." So we switched to Beds, which we did pretty quickly.
Connor: If we had done that task first, we would've sped through it, or even if we had stopped after our second or third try [on the sleds]. These things happen. Everyone who gets off has those moments where they kick themselves for doing something they shouldn't have. We made the best decision we could in the moment and we're both proud of the decision we made and we're proud of our performance.
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TVGuide.com: You rocked last week's leg. How does it feel to be the only team to have seen the giant decoder board on the side of the school?
Jonathan: That was pretty cool, especially after our mishap with not remembering where Ghana was on the map and seeing that everyone else circled children. I hand it to the other teams because it's difficult on the race. You can't see the big picture, step back and look at a wall with the decoder on it. You're always looking for the minutia and overthink clues.
Connor: We were extremely focused on what we're doing, whether it be the challenges or getting to the clue box. As a result, we miss the big picture sometimes and the incredible sights. I remember in Stonehenge, we ran up to the clue box and ran back to the car. I don't even remember seeing Stonehenge! We don't have the chance to experience things the way people think. But that takes nothing away from how awesome our experience was.
TVGuide.com: Jonathan, why didn't you do any Roadblocks? Did you have some deal where Connor would do the first six and you'd do the last six?
Jonathan: We didn't have that much of a deal. Roadblocks are tricky with a pun, and you never really know what it is going to be. Every time we did one, we were in the middle or the end of the pack, and I thought that for each of them, Connor would be better — not by a gross margin, but by enough that we could make up time. I'm not a fan of dogs, so I felt he was attuned to the more physical challenges, which we encountered most of the time except for the sunglasses. Also, it's stressful when you open the clue. I get nervous and my trigger reaction was, "You do it!" I think that's the toughest part — if I don't do that challenge right, we lose. At least in the Detours, you're working together. It's was half stress and fear and half strategy that Connor would be better at these challenges.
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TVGuide.com: What would've been something you would've jumped at? A mental task, like unscrambling "Franz"?
Jonathan: I think so. Yeah, like puzzles. I felt really good on the wall puzzle. Mental, writing challenges, but Connor's good at that stuff too.
TVGuide.com: What are you up to now?
Connor: I'm actually leaving in two days for South Korea. I'm going to work with South Korean PBS. I'm going to be writing and acting in children's educational videos, so I'll be teaching children English and I'll also be writing educational materials for them.
Jonathan: I'm performing in the Broadway musical Spider-Man that opens in a little while.