The Biggest Loser announced Kournikova will be joining the show as a new trainer during Tuesday night's live eleventh-season finale, however host Alison Sweeney's introduction had positioned Kournikova as a replacement for Jillian Michaels, who had announced she would be leaving the show after its current season in December.
"Tonight we may be saying goodbye to one superstar, but we're about to say hello to another because next season we are bringing in a brand-new trainer," Sweeney said as she introduced Kournikova, a 29-year-old tennis player more widely known for her head-turning looks than her on-the-court accomplishments.
"I am so beyond excited. This is an amazing and incredible opportunity for me to join The Biggest Loser family and to share all my knowledge and experience that I've gained being a professional athlete," Kournikova said. "I've been training my entire life to be a world-class athlete... This is my chance to give back, this is an opportunity of a lifetime. And now I'm going to teach the contestants everything I know."
While they were both present on-stage along with original trainers Michaels and Harper, the finale did not include any acknowledgement that Hoebel and Castronuova would also not be returning for The Biggest Loser's twelfth season.
Hoebel and Castronuova had joined The Biggest Loser as part of an eleventh-season twist in which almost half the season's contestants were initially required to leave The Biggest Loser ranch and train off-site with two new "unknown" trainers while the rest of the cast remained at the ranch training with Michaels and Harper.
However, Michaels had stated the show's producers had already hired a new female trainer to replace her and she was mentoring the new trainer during the eleventh season -- leading to an expectation that Castronuova would be returning for the twelfth season.
According to The Biggest Loser executive producer Todd Lubin, Kournikova's addition is part of an attempt to tweak the show's focus.
"[We're] getting slightly away from just the tape measure, and getting into overall well being and health. That's where Loser needs to go," Lubin toldNew York magazine.
X17Online.com had reported that Kournikova would be joining The Biggest Loser for its next season on Friday, however the paparazzi blog had stated that she would be "one of three new judges" along with Hoebel and Castronuova -- undermining the credibility of the report.
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