It was anything but a happy ending for Kurt and Bergen on The Amazing Race. The blind date pair, who definitely did not hit it off at the start line, seemingly threw in the towel on Friday's episode when they neither of them could drive stick shift in Bavaria and opted to incur penalties for taking a taxi. Unfortunately, it was a self-driving leg, which essentially guaranteed their elimination. After Phil Keoghan mercy-eliminated them at a train station, they each literally went their separate ways. But to hear the duo tell it, they did not quit the leg at all. Find out why below. Plus: Why didn't they learn to drive stick shift?
So that was a pretty dramatic exit for you guys. How accurate was that?
Bergen: [Laughs] It was pretty accurate. We were at different mindsets. I was pretty frustrated. Kurt was a little more OK with the decision. I wouldn't say it was all us, but what you saw definitely portrayed our feelings at the time.
Kurt, you seem mentally checked out. Were you? How much of it was because sparks didn't fly?
Kurt: [Laughs] It's not that. ... I was very excited about the blind date twist and finding love. Me and Bergen both instantly knew at the start line that nothing was going to happen. Neither of us got what we wanted when we told them what we wanted in a partner. I could've walked away right there and been like, "I'm here for love. I'm not gonna find this now." But I didn't because I still didn't wanted to do the race. Was I disappointed? Yes. But so was Bergen. I wouldn't say I mentally checked out. The race is not easy by any means and it's hard to explain how hard it is, especially with somebody you don't know and you're not on the same page. This last leg, I just kind of knew it was coming. Once the whole stick shift happened, I thought either A) We're gonna get in a car wreck in Germany — no offense, I don't want to go to a hospitaltonight because of a car accident — or B) We could take this route and take a cab and take the penalty and see what happens.
Would you say you tanked? It's pretty hard to stay on the show with multiple penalties unless it's a non-elimination leg.
Kurt: Not that I wish this, [but] let's pretend Laura and Tyler did not find their fanny pack. That could've helped us out had they not found it. We could've beaten them had that happened. You just never know what could happen. I guess I was thinking the worst, being in the car. I was more so thinking we were gonna get in a car accident.
Would you have been excited had it been a non-elimination leg?
Kurt: Oh, yeah, definitely. Why wouldn't you be happy to continue on? I would've been happy.
Did neither of you learn stick shift before doing the race? That's one of the golden rules of doing the show.
Bergen: We both tried learning prior to the race, but we didn't have a lot of time to learn it. From the time we got cast until we started, there wasn't a lot of time to learn, unlike some of the other contestants. We were both hoping that the person we would get partnered with would know stick shift. That's one disadvantage of being a blind date couple. The pre-existing couples know each other's strengths and weaknesses. Half the couples had someone who didn't know. It was a crapshoot as a blind date couple. You had to either know everything and be good at everything or pray that your partner will be your better half and know the things that you don't and vice versa. ... I should've learned how to drive stick shift. But I've driven automatic. But I do take responsibility that I should've learned that, especially being a fan since the first season. That's part of The Amazing Race.
Kurt: I tried to learn too. It was something I just didn't pick up. I haven't done it ever in my whole life. But as Bergen said, we were both hoping we would be paired with a guy who would know it and drive us around the world in a stick-shift car.
How did you end up getting cast? Did you want to do it because of the blind date twist?
Bergen: We were both recruited. I didn't even apply. I was actually a big fan of Big Brother. I had gone through their process three years ago back when I was in North Dakota. I randomly got a call from a producer. And she was like, "Hey, I'm working on Amazing Race. There's a new twist this season and we can pair you up with a blind date." I said, "That's pretty gnarly." I definitely wanted to put my hat in the ring for that. I had been single for three years and what better way than to go on The Amazing Race as a huge fan of the show and have the possibility of ending up in a relationship?
Kurt: I was honest from the beginning that I wasn't a big fan. I didn't watch it a lot. I knew Mallory Ervin, who was on it. I got a phone call one night from someone who was scouting. She had looked at my Facebook page and apparently saw something she liked and called me and asked if I would like to audition. I said sure, because why not? I've never been in a relationship, so I immediately knew I wanted to do it. I've said this before, but I also thought, what a great opportunity to show gay blind dating on TV. What a great opportunity for the gay community because unfortunately society has not yet fully come around to portraying and discussing that.
You guys obviously didn't work out, but what do you think of the twist? Do you think it's something the show should do again or was it a bust like the Family Edition?
Kurt: I like the twist. I think when ... we were asked what we wanted in a partner, we were pretty specific about what we wanted and what we didn't want. And we got the complete opposite of what we asked for. It's not like I'm regretting any of this, but it's a little disappointing. Especially because, like I said, what a cool opportunity for the gay community if we had each gotten somebody we wanted and it had worked out better.
Bergen: I totally agree. It was a little disappointed coming into it. As soon as I got to the start line and was waiting to see who was going to run up the hill, it was the total opposite of the person I described I was looking for. That was a disappointment. But as a huge fan, I actually wouldn't like to the see blind date aspect again. I think it took away a little bit of the show. I like the pre-existing relationships, but I wouldn't be opposed to seeing it again. Maybe a few seasons down the road, but every season shouldn't be a blind date season. I don't want the show to turn into that.
Do you regret quitting?
Bergen: I wouldn't say that we quit. We went to the Winter Wonderland. After our penalty, we got to Schliersee ... and got the Detour clue, and we were en route to the Stack Detour, but because it was so late, they told us to stop racing. I wouldn't say that we quit. We were at a hindrance because we gave up our car. [Laughs] We walked around a whole village, and I swear it was almost like a deserted town. You didn't see any people, you didn't see any cars, you didn't see any taxis. We only had the train, which comes in intervals of an hour. It was really hard and I totally understand how it was a self-driving leg. You absolutely needed that car the whole entire day.
How long did you wait for Phil at the train station?
Bergen: It was probably only 45 minutes or so. We got our clue and we were coming back and it was getting dark. It was probably a safety issue. We were waiting for the train and all of the sudden, Phil came in.
It seemed like you guys gave up and sat at the train station waiting for Phil.
Kurt: I know. We did not quit that show. Quitting is walking completely away from the situation and not even trying. We chose to take a different path on the show, and it just came down to a safety issue. But we were still continuing our journey. It might appear that [we quit], but that's the editing and everything else. But like Bergen said, we got our Detour clue and we still trying to get through the leg.
What are you up to now?
Bergen: I'm back at my start-up in Mountain View [Calif.]. I got promoted to the HR operations manager, so busy, busy, busy with work. Traveling a lot. I've gone to see family and friends and some of the other racers. Just trying to get back to normal life, if that's such a thing.
Kurt: I'm just continuing with pageantry. I've booked some cool gigs since the show came out. I'm emceeing Miss Indiana United States. Just booking more pageant gigs here and there, and just doing what I'm doing!
The Amazing Race airs Fridays at 8/7c on CBS.
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