The Amazing Race Canada lands in Victoria

It’s the kind of publicity money can’t buy — a starring role in one of Canada’s most popular reality shows.

That’s what awaited the capital region when a television production team made Tourism Victoria an offer it couldn’t refuse last year: the chance to strut its stuff on The Amazing Race Canada.

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Production details were kept under wraps to avoid spoiling surprises revealed in the series’ second-season première that aired Tuesday on CTV.

Shahla Kara and Nabeela Barday, two friends from Ontario, for instance, became the first of 11 teams to be eliminated when a flood-rescue challenge at the Damage Control School at CFB Esquimalt naval base proved too much for them.

The show, based on the U.S. series in which teams of two overcome challenges while travelling across the country, also saw challengers race to the Pit Stop at Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse.

Other adventures showcasing Victoria’s assets included a 12,000-foot tandem skydive challenge onto Willows Beach that prompted Canadian Olympic hockey star Natalie Spooner to correctly predict she “might throw up” as she boarded the flight.

The first episode’s 22 participants were also challenged to serve afternoon tea at the Fairmont Empress Hotel to a group described as “lords and ladies” by host Jon Montgomery. The challenge included correctly rattling off the menu, which included items such as roasted bone-in ham with tarragon dijonnaise and a cucumber and ginger mascarpone on butter brioche.

“It’s just like studying for an exam. It’s just memorization — that’s all it is,” said 19-year-old Cormac Foster, from Winnipeg, who required 10 attempts to correctly recite the menu.

Working in partnership with Destination British Columbia, Tourism Victoria’s travel media team spent months on research, location scouting and brainstorming.

“Attracting productions such as these takes a lot of hard work,” said Paul Nursey, Tourism Victoria’s president and CEO. “It’s about building relationships, having immense knowledge of our destination and strategically pitching ideas.”

Director of destination marketing Trina Mousseau said it was a plus that so many regions were featured, and that Victoria’s vibrancy was conveyed to the rest of the country.

Contestants compete to win prizes including $250,000, a pair of Chevy Silverado pickup trucks, “gas for life” from Petro-Canada and 10 pairs of round-trip business class Air Canada tickets.

The Amazing Race Canada, which airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m., averages an audience of 3.5 million per week, according to CTV.

With a file from The Canadian Press

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