The interview was quick, just over 10 minutes but it was solid. Jon was as you expect him to be, down-to-earth and funny. He is certainly someone Gord and Wayne would like to hang out and have beers with. And if he reads this, we will pay so they will be free and cold. Let's get started (Forgive if there are typos because I had to transcribe this pretty quickly, and with my kid and a bunch of neighbourhood kids jumping on our trampoline with a sprinkler underneath).
G & W - How do you prepare for a Season of the Amazing Race Canada?
Jon - I guess you start off with sleep deprivation, you make sure you can do things with the minimal amount of sleep… and food. I guess there is no physical preparation for myself to get ready for the race, I was training all last year for the Olympics in Sochi and for my Skeleton season I had just finished, so in terms of physicality I was in good shape. But you can never really prepare doing 50 thousand kilometres in a month. That, you just have to fly by the seat of your pants and hopefully don’t cave.
G & W - Do you get any time off during pitstops?
Jon - You get zero breaks. Every day from bell to bell, you’re working minimum 12-18 hours a day and you’re doing it for 30 days in a row, there isn’t a single day when’s there’s down time.
G & W - What kind of stuff do you pack?
Jon - I’ll do a little planning in Toronto before heading out so I know every outfit I’m going to wear for each episode. and then basically I don’t get out of show clothes for the next 30 days. You just put your clothes on in the morning and right before you go to bed at night, you take it off. And then you wake up and do it all over again.
G & W - Do you bring anything special to keep you grounded or remind you of home?
Jon - I do bring Blue Robeo with me, which is a blue robe that’s travelled all over the world with me during my Skeleton days. It’s my one creature comfort of home and I call him Blue Robeo.
G & W - Have you ever contacted Phil Keoghan for advice?
Jon - I’ve repeatedly reached out to Phil from the US show and time and time again, he’s ignored more and blocked me out of Twitter and Facebook. I think next he’s is taking out a restraining order. But no, I’ve never actually met Phil or reached out to him. He’s got that job dialled. But I’m a bit hesitant to ask him how to do anything or how do I act in a situation. That’s something I try to steer clear from, is trying to be somebody else in this role. I can’t be somebody else. I’m not an actor, I’m not going to pull it off and do the Phil Keoghan eyebrow or the voice. I just got to be the most authentic version of myself I can be and hopefully that resonates with the viewers.
G & W - I noticed, mainly in the later episodes of Season 1, they actually had you do some of the tasks as you were describing them and that seemed…
Jon - No, that was actually the case from the very first episode and I suspect having me involved in the show with an athletic background was so I could be an active participant in the race instead of just describing it. So from 1-10 last year, I was doing all the challenges and that will be the case for this year as well.
G & W - So you do all of them? That’s kind of cool.
Jon - Yeah, all of them, all we have time for, all we can make logistically work with our filming schedule.
G & W- Does that make it easier to do the description of the tasks when you’re doing it?
Jon - You tell me, would you rather describe something while hanging off the side of an airplane or standing on the ground looking up at it from below? I think it would be easier to stand on the ground looking at it, but from my perspective I would much rather be on the airplane doing the description of it rather than on the ground because then I would be wishing I was up there. I love to be able to do everything, whether it was rappelling down the side of skyscraper like in the final episode or doing whatever. A Tonka truck or a monster truck whatever is in the show, it would all be good.
G & W - What can we expect this season?
Jon - You can expect it to be a longer, more gruelling, harder, more entertaining. Harder challenges. Bigger challenges. More wow moments. And the exact same kind of production values that you guys saw last year, which was top shelf stuff.
Jon - The only opportunity I’ve got to learn who the racers are prior to meeting them on the mat is in their casting videos. So you get to just see a glimmer of what people might be like. And then as the race develops and you’ve had an opportunity to connect with these guys repeatedly on the mat, you begin to find out what makes them tick, what some of their challenges are, where their strengths lie, and in that case you’re able to get a better idea of who these people might be like in the real world. Because let’s not kid ourselves, being a part of the Amazing Race Canada is not like the real world. Nobody works that hard, travels that far, does as many gruelling, challenging things to themselves on a daily basis as they are faced with on Amazing Race Canada. So from that perspective, you’ve got to cut them a bit of slack when you see something that is a bit snarky or off-putting and definitely take it all with a grain of salt. I don’t really, really, really get to know these people at their core and anybody who says they can do that in a 10 minute conversation a couple of times is lying to you.
G & W- This is a question my daughter came up with, she really wanted to know this: do you feel bad when you eliminate a team?
Jon - (Laughs) I’ve got pangs of small guilt, but I don’t really struggle to send someone home at the end of the day because I’ve seen them all work hard, I’ve seen them all give everything they’ve got and in any competition, race or sport, there can be only one winner. And for me to try to narrow it down to those final two, those winners of Amazing Race Canada, it’s just a job. I’m performing a task and as much as some of the racers like to stay, some case I think it’s almost relief that it’s over. They don’t have to get grounded to dust anymore on a daily basis because it’s not for the faint of heart, it’s not for the meek. This race is for people who are doggedly determined and really, really want to find out what they are made of.
G & W - I know being the host of Amazing Race Canada is not a full-time position so what has it done for you professionally?
Jon - I think if you are an individual that lives in the world that I do whether it’s a sport I’m no longer part of, but I do public speaking as well. And as often as you remain relevant and the forefront of people’s thoughts, then the show definitely keeps me in the public eye and be a familiar name so that when people are thinking of hiring a public speaker, what I do in my time away from the race, maybe they’ll think of me. It definitely gives me an opportunity to try and parlay an athletic success into a speaking career and remaining relative in that context.
G & W - I’m not sure if you’re aware of Amazing Race Australia, they are doing an Aussie vs Kiwi Season so I’m wondering what you would think about a Canada vs US season?
Jon - Really, that's pretty cool. But bring it on, bring it on, suckers. We’re the ones known to be world travellers. Some of those south of the 49th Parallel are lucky to get out of their state so we would smoke em on that front.
G & W - And we’ve asked some of our fans to give a question and the one question we’ve narrowed it down to is this: Lager vs Ale?
Jon - Uh, whichever one is free or whichever one is cold, I don’t not care, my friend. Lager vs ale vs porter vs uh... pilsner vs grolsch, whatever, it doesn’t matter a lick, if it is cold or free, I am in.
G & W - So after a hard day on the race, do you have a beer? Or do you not drink while the race is on. (Side note: Phil Keoghan says he does not drink any alcohol while on a race which is why we asked Jon this question.)
Jon - Oh Lord, always I celebrate a hard day of work with a frosty pint at the end of the line.
G & W - And it’s free and cold on the race?
Jon - It’s never free, it’s rarely free but, I’ll always pay for a cold beer, that’s for sure.