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B.C. university prof happy with runner-up finish on Jeopardy

Vancouver Island’s Whitney Wood appeared on the episode that aired Thursday, June 23
Jeopardy host Mayim Bialik, left, and contestant Whitney Wood, a VIU professor, on the Alex Trebek Stage at Sony Pictures Studios at Culver City, Calif. (Photo courtesy Jeopardy Productions, Inc.)

A B.C. professor is second-guessing her lack of mountain knowledge and willingness to take risks.

But watching herself finish as a runner-up on Jeopardy last week was “surreal but fun.”

Whitney Wood, a Vancouver Island University history prof, showcased her wealth of knowledge on an episode that aired Thursday, June 23.

Wood was the first contestant to get a question right when she knew that dingoes are animals at the Perth Zoo that have bushy tails and can’t bark.

The Final Jeopardy clue – “This classic album by a southern rocker gets its title from a civil war quote by a union general” – stumped all three contestants, who couldn’t think of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ Damn the Torpedoes. So returning champion Jeff Weinstock, a marketing lecturer from Miami, won $17,999 to remain champ, Wood finished with $2,600 and Andrew Lewis, a lawyer from Oakland, finished with $1,000.

Wood said in an e-mail interview that she’s been a fan of Jeopardy for as long as she can remember, and even unsuccessfully auditioned for the teen tournament in 2004.

In the fall of 2019 she began the long process to try again, writing an online test, advancing to an in-person audition the following spring, and completing the rest of the process via Zoom. This past spring, she got the call to appear and then filmed her episode in late April on the Alex Trebek Stage at Sony Pictures Studios at Culver City, Calif.

“The first half – the Jeopardy round – was very exciting, and I came out strong, but it all comes down to Double Jeopardy (and of course Final Jeopardy) where the categories weren’t for me and I had a tougher time,” she said. “Overall, though, I’m really happy with how things turned out.”

Wood, who is Canada Research Chair in the historical dimensions of women’s health and an expert on history of gender and health, joked that in hindsight, she should have tried to learn more about mountains. She said the timing of the buzzer was difficult and something she couldn’t have really practised beforehand, and also commented that she could have made different decisions with her playing strategy.

“I think that a good contestant knows when to take risks and when to play it safe,” Wood said. “I suppose as a risk-averse person, I could’ve taken more risks and actively sought out the Daily Doubles.”

Earlier this year, Mattea Roach, from Toronto, won 23 straight games, the most ever by a Canadian on Jeopardy, with winnings of over $560,000.

RELATED: Canadian ‘Jeopardy!’ champ moves up Top 10 list with 19th win

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