Pro snowboarders Andy Finch and Tommy Czeschin will be among the 11 teams competing in the 19th season of "The Amazing Race' when it premieres Sept. 25, CBS announced Wednesday.
"Tommy and I fully had a list of things that we thought were going to be advantages for us coming in as pro snowboarders," Finch told ESPN. "We definitely have that competitive spirit and that will come through on the show, but I really feel like in other ways we were way off-base. Where we thought we were going to be strong, that wasn't always the case -- there were definitely areas where our specific gifts and talents didn't help us much -- and we were surprised to find that we were stronger in other areas than we thought we'd be."
Finch has been sponsored by Shaun Palmer's Palmer Snowboards since 1997. He was the U.S. Halfpipe Grand Prix champ in 2003 and '04, won silver at Winter X Games in '05, and also won the '05 TTR title before competing in the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy. More recently he won the 2009 World Heli Challenge in New Zealand.
Czeschin retired from competitive snowboarding in 2009 to run Humanity Snowboards, after a long career that included a spot on the 2002 Olympic team, two Winter X medals and 17 World Cup podium finishes. He recently joined the snowboard coaching staff of Team USA. The two have traveled and competed against each other for more than a decade, and Finch says it took some adjustments to get used to being on the same team.
"The guys on tour as pro snowboarders are all pretty close, but it's a competitive friendship," Finch says. "I mean, we leave our home lives and we have this family out on the road. Tommy has always been part of that family for me, and we've definitely been put through the wringer in all kinds of crazy circumstances, so I knew he could hang. But it's a different kind of friendship … over all those years, we've been competing against each other -- I was psyched to get to race with Tommy."
Finch and Czeschin will be up against stiff competition on the show, with teams including former NFL tight end Marcus Pollard, former "Survivor" winners Ethan Zohn (Season 3) and Jenna Morasca (Season 6), and sailor Zac Sunderland, who set a world record in 2009 as the youngest person ever to circumnavigate the globe solo. The teams include several other pairs of friends, as well as several couples and siblings.
Fans of Finch and Czeschin and their work with the Christian nonprofit organization the Nations Foundation won't be surprised to hear Finch say that the snowboarders brought a third teammate along for the race. "One cool thing going into the show with Tommy is I that I knew that no matter what happened, our faith in Christ would be our rock to stand on, and it was," Finch says. "I really believe that gave us strength going into this."
"The Amazing Race" first aired in September 2005 and is celebrating its 10-year anniversary this month. This season's installment begins near Finch and Czeschin's homes in California and will see competitors racing to 20 cities on four continents, including stops in Indonesia, Malawi, Belgium and Denmark, covering nearly 40,000 miles in all. No word yet on whether there will be a snowboarding challenge this season.