By Joseph Ditzler

The Bulletin

A Bend woman defended her title Monday evening as reigning champion on the TV quiz show “Jeopardy!

Rachel Lindgren, 26, fire lookout for the U.S. Forest Service in warmer seasons and a ticket agent at Mt. Bachelor ski area, prevailed over two opponents Monday to earn another day in the spotlight. Lindgren on Monday survived the second round and will go on to a third day of competition Tuesday. She won the first round in an episode that aired Friday. She could not say Monday morning how many rounds she won, citing a nondisclosure agreement.

“There were one or two (categories) I felt good at, and I always felt good in the wordplay categories,” she said. “I like the science categories, and I got very few science categories.”

The program in which Lindgren appeared was recorded on Halloween, she said. “Jeopardy!” airs at 7 p.m. weeknights on the ABC affiliate KOHD in Bend.

Lindgren, a native of Carson City, Nevada, moved to Bend last year. Lindgren said she’s been a regular “Jeopardy!” viewer since college. She graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno, in 2014 with degrees in biology and forestry.

The popular quiz show tees up three contestants for a half-hour every weekday evening. Contestants must respond with the correct question to the answer provided by host Alex Trebek and displayed on a studio screen. Failure to respond in the form of a question negates the response. The winner moves on to another round until felled by a challenger.

Living room savants may think themselves clever for doing well while watching the quiz show in the comfort of their easy chairs, but they don’t contend with the real-life pressure on stage in Sony Studios, in Culver City, California. Five game rounds are recorded on a single day in front of an audience.

“There is the added factor of not wanting to look like an idiot on TV,” Lindgren said. “Sometimes you blurt out at home what you wanted to do on TV.”

She said she played the game conservatively and held back when she didn’t feel totally sure about the correct question. “There were a bunch I totally knew but I didn’t buzz in,” she said.

Timing, she said, is key. Each player holds a button that locks out the other players and prompts Trebek, the host, to call on that player. A light, not visible to the home viewer, illuminates when the button is active. Too soon and the button resets, basically locking that player out; too late and the player risks being blocked by a competitor. Sometimes the correct response is less than certain, but the risk is worth a shot, Lindgren said.

“It depends on your score in the game, so far. You have to just gauge where the game is and whether you want to take a chance,” she said.

“Jeopardy!” selected her as a contestant on her second try, Lindgren said. She tried first in 2014 and got called for an audition in Las Vegas but never got the call back. She tried again in January with the online test, went to an audition in July in Seattle and a month later received the call. She was standing her post at the Lava Butte fire tower at the time, she said.

“I think I kept my cool pretty good,” Lindgren said. “I jumped around a little bit, stifled some squeals of excitement.”

A group of friends gathered at Platypus Pub on NE Third Street on Friday and Monday to watch her prevail.

Even if she is disqualified on Tuesday’s program, Lindgren has won $42,201 over two shows.

“Other than the boring ‘pay off my debts’ stuff, I was thinking of putting it toward a pilot’s license,” she said Monday. “It’s as good a chance as any, mostly for my own enjoyment, but I’m definitely not averse to a career.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7815, jditzler@bendbulletin.com

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