The Amazing Race: The Yak Chats with Abbie and Ryan

Abbie Ginsberg and Ryan Danz

After an emotional leg that saw the elimination of James and Abba, The Amazing Race continued the water works in Amsterdam, where the remaining 5 teams had to grind, vault and eat their way to the Final Four. The double U-Turn became an obstacle for Abbie Ginsberg (@abbieginsberg) and Ryan Danz (@ryandanz) that proved to be the topper to their Cake of Misfortune. The latest eliminated team sat down with Yakkity Yaks to discuss their string of bad luck, the friendships they made on the race, and if they thought the $2 million prize placed a bigger target on their chances of winning.


The Yak: First off, I have to send my deep, deep love from our members who were touched by your decision to wait for Josh and Brent during the last leg. You’ve endeared yourself to a lot of viewers by doing that.
Abbie: Awe! That’s very nice to hear!
Ryan: I think in hindsight, honestly, getting first place and winning two million dollars would have been a dream come true on a lot of levels, but we never, ever thought that getting a relationship that we got not only with each other, but with the Beekmans that I know will be life long – It’s really hard to say that it’s not more important. What you see on TV is very authentic – the way that we treat them, the way that we wait with them – and even when they decided to move on from the U-Turn and let us go do the side of the U-Turn, there was no hard feelings. We hugged, and we were sort of preparing for that, days earlier, to happen. So, it’s very real. We’ll see them in a week or so in New York, and we’ll spend time with them, so we’re very blessed to have had that silver lining in what, otherwise, could have been a black cloud for us that day in Amsterdam.

The Yak: So, do you regret teaming up with them at all?
Abbie: Not at all.
Ryan: No, not at all. This experience for us was about so much more than just the race, whether winning the money or the travel component. We didn’t know what to expect. We were hoping to gain clarity with ourselves and our relationship, so that in and of itself was a major blessing. We got to do something that so few people ever will experience, and we developed a much deeper relationship with each other through it. Then, an off-label reward, was this relationship that we got out of it with Josh and Brent that will pay off dividends well beyond any prize money we would have won, so there’s absolutely no regrets whatsoever.

The Yak: Taking a look at the U-Turn on this leg, how do you now feel about the Chippendales and their choice to use the U-Turn on the two of you?
Abbie: You know, we look at it as two separate things. We knew there was a great likelihood we’d be U-Turned, so to be bitter about a U-Turn in general, we’re not at all. It’s part of the game. Our strategy was not to use the U-Turn early in the game because we didn’t need to. Had we been racing for last place, there’s a potential we would have used it on another team. We were shocked that it was them out of the people that were left. We knew that Twinnies [Natalie and Nadiya] and Texans [Trey and Lexi] would do it in a heartbeat, but for it to come from them, we were shocked. What you didn’t see was the relationship that we had built with Jaymes and James, pretty much from day one, when we were talking back at LAX. We had said we wanted to align with a dominate male-male team, and they had come up to us and said, “You guys are strong, so what do you say about helping each other to the Final Three? Then, all bets are off and may the best person win.” So, we did a lot of helping each other out along the way.
Ryan: Yeah, we got pretty far behind leaving Turkey. There were some flight issues that you saw, and some flight issues that you didn’t see, so we didn’t see them for a couple of days. They didn’t know what had happened. So, we finally run into each other at some point, and Blonde James comes up to us and literally says, “Oh, my god! Thank god! You’re here! I can breathe again!” I’m only bringing this up to show that either he was the best actor of all time or he genuinely cared about us and vice versa. We had some conversation, and we told them there was some concern because we were so far behind and that there’s a U-Turn coming up, and he said, “Don’t worry about it. I know that Texas and the Twinnies are plotting, but we have your back. We’re gonna make sure that everything is okay. We’ll take care of it. We all want to race together. We want to race with the strongest teams, and really take pride with beating them fair and square.” So, had he not said that, it would have been cool. It’s definitely a mechanism in the game. Go for it. Use it. We talked in Indonesia, during the first U-Turn, that we just don’t believe in them as race fans, but these guys were recruited for the show, whereas Abbie and I applied as fans, so they had other interests. One of the first things that Jaymes told us was this was an opportunity for him to get his own TV show. So, that’s fine if that’s what it is, but we just kind of felt betrayed and here we were sticking to our words with everyone that we were talking to and holding our end of the bargin up.

The Yak: Looking back, how would you have played it with Josh and Brent if you hadn’t been U-Turned?
Ryan: If the U-Turn didn’t happen, we basically would have gone to the ditch together. I think it was caught on TV that they were sort of resigned to the fact that they went as far as they could go and got as much out of the experience as they wanted to at that point, so we were under the impression that if you step on the mat at the same time, there are some rules that we were aware of that indicated which team would prevail. We were fine in knowing that if we were tied, we would have been moving on.

Abbie and Ryan get U-Turned in Amsterdam

The Yak: What about your relationship with the Twinnies?
Abbie and Ryan: [imitating Natalie and Nadiya] “Twinnie! Twinnie!” [laughs]
Abbie: What would you like to know?
The Yak: Where did that relationship break down? It never seemed like you had a real strong connection with them from the beginning, but where did it really start to turn?
Abbie: It’s funny because looking back, a lot of people like our friends and families said, “What the heck did you guys do to have this hatred for one another?” and I think if you back up, they’re competitive and we’re competitive and sometimes you just don’t like people you compete against. I think with a lot of these shows, there were little snippets. There weren’t many times when we were arguing and being horrible to each other, and I think a lot of of Twinnie stuff is humor driven.
Ryan: I would just add that the few things you saw each of us saying was probably the only things that were actually said, but since the show only gives you 40 minutes of air time, you tend to get a lot of weight on something when it comes up. So, while it looked like we said things all day long, there was really only a few comments. We were really only concerned with one thing and that was how we performed on the race course. Aside from the U-Turns, there’s really nothing that another team can do to you to slow you down and impact your race, and I think when you did see us interacting, it was sort of in a sibling-rilvary sort of place.
Abbie: It was playful!
Ryan: Yeah, I genuinely happy with the way that they talked, and I was blown away by the things that they said. I thought it was funny. I have a similar sense of humor, so for the most part, I just found them to be entertaining. I didn’t have this issues, like, “Oh, my god! I can’t run this race with them still here!”
Abbie: Like little pests. There was the one task where I asked them if they had built a scale in their backyard, it was like, “No shit!” It was sarcasm. It wasn’t as if I was actually asking them if they built scales in their backyards for fun. So, come on, really? It was all for fun, and people might be surprised by this, but we’ve actually developed a good relationship with them after the show. Between them and the Beekmans, we talk to them via text nearly every day. I think, they’re young and we both didn’t know each other that well during the show. You don’t have a lot of time to really get to know people. You’re racing on your own quite a bit, but they’re funny.

The Yak: Obviously, everyone’s curious about the U-Turns, the Chippendales, and the Twinnies, but aside from all of that, what do you think was the hardest part of the race for each of you?
Abbie: Booking flights. [laughs] The most stressful part, honestly, was booking flights. The whole thing was a welcome challenge, though, for Ryan and I. Being very competitive people, we liked being put to the test and we like those moments of struggle. Personally, nothing stands out more than Dhaka. The heat and the culture change and the tasks that day – that was probably one of the toughest physical parts of the race. Also, the demise of Abbie and Ryan was emotionally tough to deal with. Amsterdam was brutal on our spirits. It would have been one thing if we had been sucking at the course itself and making dumb mistakes, but this plane trouble stuff – for that to be an incessant problem – it just drained us by the time we got to Amsterdam.
Ryan: Abbie’s right. Along the way, we really were getting stronger as a couple. The race itself was becoming more manageable physically. The hardest part, though, was coming to grips with the notion that we were the strongest team, just based on the average finish – especially before we left for Russia, we averaged a second place on every leg, even though we had two firsts. So, we were just crushing the course in every leg, we were getting stronger as a team, stronger as a couple, and then, all of a sudden, all this bad luck happened with the flight situations and we just couldn’t get over it. That was a very hard thing to comprehend when you’re doing so well that the “race behind the race” with all this logistical stuff leaves you feeling very helpless. If we had failed on the race course, we could say, “Look, we did our best, but we’re just not the best team,” but we don’t think either of us felt that way.
Abbie: Yet, for the same reason, we love this race! We’re fans of it because the luck part is part of it. It gives anybody a shot, not just the most physical and smartest team. It really can go any way.
Ryan: The Blondes [Caitlin and Brittany] with the taxi that caused a problem. Then, Amy and Daniel with the taxi in Indonesia. Plus, us with the flights. If you said, “Would you do it all over again and take that stuff out of the equation?” I would say, “Absolutely not!” I think traveling and racing around the world was as much a part of the race as the Detours and the Road Blocks, and it’s a fun part of the race. The first day we left China, we got to the airport first and Abbie didn’t see anybody, so she was concerned we had to book our own flights and we were going to screw it up. She got sort of emotionally freaked out.
Abbie: I got freaked out!
Ryan: When, looking back, that was exciting! That was really cool. We were able to get around the world and figure it out on our own, having never really traveled together before.

The Yak: It seems to be a theme with a lot of the racers this season: everyone was really excited about the race, but they’ve all got their own personal issues behind the race itself, whether it be the taxis or the flights. It’s definitely something to consider when discussing the race that most racers never think about before hand.
Ryan: Yeah, when we were traveling between Detours and Route Markers and Pit Stops, we were doing things to get better each leg when it came to those kinds of travel, especially when it was travel by taxi. We were always trying to pay our drivers ahead of time, so that we wouldn’t have to haggle at the end, and we always had backup measures in place to make sure our driver knew where he was going. So, we were not just getting better at performing the tasks, but actually how to move around in each country. It’s too bad that we didn’t get a chance to go to the end and see how it would have shaken out. If you looked at our record up until after Turkey and before the flight troubles all started, when we were all racing on the same even playing field, we beat the Chippendales 5 out of 6 times, and we beat the Twinnies [Natalie and Nadiya] 5 out of 6 times, and we beat Lexi and Trey 4 out of 6 times, so it’s not a guarantee that we would have won, but I certainly liked our odds better than anyone else’s.

Abbie and Ryan trek through Bangladesh

The Yak: After that first leg, what was it like knowing that you were racing for two million dollars? Did it seem to be a big deal to the other teams?
Ryan: Ultimately, the game decision to U-Turn us and everything else that came along with it had nothing to do with the two million dollar prize. It had everything to do with how we were winning each leg or coming in the top until we had our flight issues. Until that point, every decision that was made against us was made just because we were a strong team. We could have been racing for one dollar and the teams would have made the same decision because we were going to impact their ability to win their own one million dollar prize.

The Yak: Did you do anything special after you found out you had been selected to be on the race?
Abbie: Oh, gosh! That day was so exciting. I remember that day: it was pouring down rain, and we immediately went to get our backpacks and started shopping for all of our items. We didn’t even celebrate that night. We were on a very strict, healthy regimin before we left. We had just spent the day together, prepping, and then we started mentally and physically prepping a little bit before, just in case, since we didn’t want to wait 3 or 4 weeks before the race to do all that, so we upped our prep time. We pretty much lived and breathed prepping for the race before we took off.
Ryan: The one thing that I think was the biggest preparation tool for us was teaching Abbie how to drive a stick shift. It didn’t happen over night, and it didn’t happen over two or three nights – it took about three weeks, and it was the bain of our existence in that time. Then, in the meantime, we were doing pilates together and doing brain games and going to different workouts and rock climbing and kayaking, but that stick shift driving really got us over the hump of communications that we didn’t have before. We had never really been in a position like that before where we were relying on each other in a different sense of the relationship. Unlike the Twinnies, who had a lifetime of being sisters, we’ve only been dating for a year and a half, so the benefit of that time together learning the stick shift was the best preparation on how to communicate during the race because it was so contentious. For a while, she was getting frustrated, and I was getting frustrated, but it really was the best thing we could have done.

The Yak: It definitely showed in the way you ran the race. You seemed to have a good chemistry together, and you didn’t appear to fight like we’ve seen so many teams do in past seasons.
Abbie: Yeah, we’re happy that we were portrayed that way. There really wasn’t much they could have used to make us venomous towards one another, and that was really important going into the race because Ryan and I are both Type-A and competitive, we both had a goal, which was to win and do our best, but you have to put the relationship and the cattiness and the nit-picking aside. We had the same goal, and that’s why I think we meshed really well when it came to the task at hand. Yes, there were moments in the hotel room when we had to work out some stuff and maybe there was a little bit of bickering and quarreling then, but the majority of our success was because we were able to just contain that side of the relationship. Ironically, with that, we were working on our relationship, but we weren’t putting focus directly on it.
Ryan: We were even being told by Phil at each Pit Stop, “Gosh, I can’t believe you guys are getting stronger as a couple. Certainly as a team, but also as a couple. That’s never really happened.” Some teams, even Ralph and Vanessa from last season, broke up on their flight out of Hawaii. The relationship takes such a toll, especially as a dating couple. You’re not really invested in the relationship the same way you are as a parent-child or sibling or some other familial relationship, so we sort of had the deck stacked against us, but the thing that I’m most proud about is not how well we did and not that we’re one of the strongest teams of all time, but it’s really how we treated each other. We watched this back with our families and our friends, but at the end of the day, we made each other feel good and respected and accomplished. Plus, I’m just so proud of Abbie with how she treated herself. She has 800 students at her dance school that are between the ages of 5 and 18, so every Monday, they’d come in and say, “Oh, Miss Abbie! We saw you on the race!” It was their world, so in keeping that in the back of her mind, these kids are so proud of her and, hopefully, me through the way I treated her, it’s a really special part of the experience for us that we’ve never had that breakdown between us.

The Yak: So, what’s next for Abbie and Ryan?
Abbie: Well, work today. [laughs] No, you know, I think we’re open to whatever comes our way. We’re excited for new things. Maybe the race again? I’ll have to twist Ryan’s arm on that one, if it was ever an option. [laughs]
Ryan: We’re blessed that we’ve gotten some opportunities that have come, just because of this race. There’s been an endorsement deal that we’ve been able to line up, and I’ve been approached about doing a book, plus, there was a proposal that was accepted – just from being on the race and having unique backgrounds, whether jujitsu or law or entrepreneurialism. We just got back from a lakeside cabin in Tahoe, where we spent a week there with our dogs and hiked and got to be alone. We’ll just keep doing things like that and sort of living our own Amazing Race every day.

The Yak: Thank you so much for your time, and we were sorry to see you go, but we wish you all the best!
Ryan: Thank you! Go Yakkity Yaks!!!
Abbie: Yeah, Yakkity Yaks!!!

One Reply to “The Amazing Race: The Yak Chats with Abbie and Ryan”

  1. So what I don’t get is how they are now so cool with the twins who orchestrated the plan to get them out, however they still hold a grudge against the Chippendales. Doesn’t make a ton of sense.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *