On Friday, Bergen Olsen and Kurt Jordan Belcher became the first blind date couple and fourth team to be eliminated from this season of The Amazing Race.
Earlier this week, I caught up with Bergen (a 23 year-old human resources project manager) and Kurt (a 24 year-old pageant consultant) to discuss a variety of topics that included why it appeared they hadn’t practiced driving a manual vehicle prior to going on the show, if they regretted their decision to take a penalty and what their relationship is like now (after they literally and figuratively appeared to go their separate ways at the end of Friday’s episode).
Murtz Jaffer: Kurt, despite you and Bergen not knowing each other before the season, it seemed like you were getting along for most of the time. What went wrong in this leg?
Kurt Jordan Belcher: To be honest, we did not get along the whole time. There were definitely a few little light arguments prior to leg 5. You just don’t see them due to editing. Now, it wasn’t horrid by any means. It just was not all sunshine and rainbows.
MJ: Bergen, you and Kurt seemed to recognize that romance wasn’t really in the cards for you and Kurt almost immediately. Do you think you might have placed better if there was a spark or was your lack of connection really not a factor?
Bergen Olson: You are correct, we knew right from the start line, that there was not a romantic match at all. What I expressed to casting and producers in my interviews and questionnaires from the start was that I wanted a strong, masculine guy (like a bro you can watch football with), but instead I received the complete opposite, Kurt. No offense to Kurt, but he just isn’t the type of guy I am looking to start a relationship with. Do I think the “type” of guy Kurt is, played a factor in how far we went? No. Do I think the “drive and motivation” that Kurt had for the Race played a factor? Yes. Kurt was in it for love and I don’t blame him. That was the premise of the season. The love aspect was just an added bonus for me. As a fan of the show and my competitiveness, I was in it to win!
MJ: Kurt, you guys got a fortune in the last episode that read “not likely to find a good mate at this stage.” Do you think that was a little bit of foreshadowing?
KJB: No, it wasn’t foreshadowing. We both immediately knew at the start line that it was not going to be a match. The fortune was more of a reminder to us. In regardless, our lack of romantic chemistry had nothing to do with our elimination.
BO: This isn’t for me… but YES! [Laughs]. Everything happens for a reason, right?! Crazy huh?!
MJ: It seemed to come down to you guys not being able to drive a car with a stick. Bergen, driving a car with a manual transmission is almost always a task on the Amazing Race. Had you practiced prior to going on the show?
BO: Yes, I did practice and even watched YouTube videos before coming on the Race, but sometimes you just aren’t good at certain things. Is everyone a good singer? No. Is everyone good at sports? No. You can’t be good at everything in life. We all have our weaknesses. Driving a manual transmission just happens to be mine. Do I take full responsibility for not perfecting this skill prior to the race? Yes, however, as you could see in the episode, I actually was driving down the road in a very busy neighborhood. The problem was that I couldn’t navigate (using directions and pictures on our selfie phone), drive the car, and pay attention to the signs all by myself. That’s where I was hoping to have Kurt step up and help me.
MJ: Kurt, when you suggested taking the cab (instead of driving), it was prior to knowing that you will still need the car on the next task. Had you known that prior to making the decision to take the cab, would you have given driving another shot?
KJB: I go back and forth with this. Being in that car was the only time throughout the race that I did not feel safe and was very scared. We kept stalling and cars were flying by us beeping their horns. At one point we almost got rear-ended. I was thinking the worst…a car wreck in Germany. The car would stop shaking and I could not even focus on trying to navigate us. I wouldn’t get on a wooden roller coaster and try and read a book. At that point, I didn’t trust my life with my partner. Neither one of us could drive a stick shift. So in a cab we went. Ironically, if I remember correctly, we were the 3rd or 4th team to arrive at the Winter Wonderland. I guess I still had hope that we could have pulled it off… even with a penalty. You never know what will happen in the Race. If Laura & Tyler didn’t find their fanny pack, the tables could have easily turned. No, I do not wish that upon them, I am just saying. Maybe things would have been different had we kept trying to continue on in the car. But also, maybe something unfortunate would have happened.
MJ: When Mike and Rochelle passed you in the car, you still had about an hour left on your penalty. At that point, did you still think you had a shot?
BO: No, I basically knew we didn’t have a shot when we gave up the car. Being a fan of the Race, I knew that if you are given a car in a self-driving leg, you will more than likely need that car for the whole leg. The only hope I had was when #TeamSoCal was missing their fanny pack which included their passports. If they wouldn’t have found that, we might have survived this leg. Granted if we did, we more than likely would have been hours behind for the next leg.
MJ: Was this the worst possible leg to decide not to take a car? It seemed like almost everything involved driving the Ford Focus.
BO: Yes! After the Winter Wonderland challenge, everything else was in the remote country side where there was no sign of taxis or public transportation besides the trains that came in (what seemed like) 1 hour intervals. So it instantly clicked why we needed the Ford Focus for the whole leg.
MJ: Kurt, when you guys were eliminated, it wasn’t at the pit stop. It was at the train station where Phil arrived to tell you that all the teams had already checked in. How long had you been waiting at the train station?
KJB: I believe we were at that train station for an hour or so. I honestly couldn’t tell you exactly. I just know we were about to get on our next train and we were told to stop and just wait there. Next thing I knew, here came daddy Phil.
MJ: Bergen, at the end of the show… Kurt said that he was at peace with the decision you made but you seemed to take it personally and suggested that Kurt had given up when he realized that there wasn’t a blossoming romance between you. Do you really think that your lack of romantic chemistry is ultimately what resulted in your elimination?
BO: I don’t believe the lack of romantic chemistry was ultimately the reason we were eliminated. Heck, we won the last leg in Bangkok, so we were obviously communicating well enough to do that! What I do believe caused our elimination was the lack of teamwork and our skill of driving a manual transmission. I really needed Kurt to help me with navigation and to trust in me that I was going to be able to drive the car regardless if it was slow, bumpy or unsafe.I felt instead that he was more easily accepting of the fact that we were going to be eliminated, instead of trusting me to keep driving regardless of the circumstances.
MJ: Kurt, last night was one of the few Amazing Race episodes where a team left and went there separate ways. Are you and Bergen friends now or are there still any lingering ill feelings?
KJB: Even apart from the race, Bergen and I would still not be best friends. We are just not each other’s cup of tea, and there is nothing wrong with that. We both have a mutual respect for one another as Race partners. Bergen is a wonderful man, and he deserves a significant other in his life who is going to treat him right. We went our separate ways at the end of the show because that’s what we were told to do.
MJ: Bergen, what was the best part of being on The Amazing Race and what’s next for you?
BO: The Amazing Race is one unforgettable journey that I wish every fan could experience. I was able to show that dreams truly can come true for a small town country boy from Danvers, Minnesota! I was able to express to my family and friends, and ultimately the world, who I truly am and more importantly, to be proud of who I have become! Not only did the Race inspire me to respect myself, but to respect and appreciate others and their cultures. Every country and culture is unique in their own way and sometimes we get tunnel visioned into our own culture and forget that others are living in completely different lifestyles. There are no words that can express how unbelievable this was to experience.
What’s next for me? Trying to get back to normal life (if that is such a thing) as I was promoted to HR Operations Manager at my startup Pure Storage in Mountain View, CA. I would love nothing more than a second chance on the Race or maybe something different like Survivor or Big Brother. I also am looking at organizations that I can get involved with for anti-bullying prevention and LGBTQ awareness and equality. Not to mention, I am still single, so holler at your boy:
Instagram – bolson2224
Twitter – @bergenolson
Facebook – Bergen Olson
MJ: Kurt, what was the best part of being on The Amazing Race, and what’s next for you?
KJB: The best part of being on The Amazing Race was getting to explore the world and learning about different cultures. Getting to do it with the cast of Season 26 was the added bonus… I loved them all. What’s next for me…I will continue on with branding myself in world of pageantry. Hopefully maybe even more reality TV. I am addicted to being on camera now.
MJ: Thanks guys.
Tags: murtz, Murtz Jaffer, The Amazing Race