Damien Gurganious eliminated from 'The Biggest Loser: Couples'
By John Bracchitta, 01/21/2009
Damien Gurganious may have been one of the more personable characters on The Biggest Loser: Couples ranch. However, a surprising elimination vote turn resulted in Damien, a 31-year-old industrial designer from Brooklyn, NY, being eliminated from the competition on Tuesday night's broadcast of the NBC weight-loss reality series.
Damien's elimination also meant that his fiancee and Red team partner Nicole Brewer -- a 37-year-old wardrobe stylist who was sent home in the first week twist in which nine of the competition's eleven teams had to send a member home -- would not get to return to the ranch after 30 days.
"I feel like I let Nicole down," Damien said following his surprising elimination. "I don't have any regrets, [but] I just feel like I could've worked a little harder and Nicole could've come back."
"Coming here made us stronger. Since coming to the ranch, I've learned that what I thought was pain was not," he added. "There are things I thought was impossible, and now I'm doing those things every day."
The Biggest Loser: Couples' third episode began with the remaining contestants reacting to the "difficult" elimination vote in which they had voted to eliminate Jerry Hayes over Daniel Wright, a 19-year-old student from Willow Spring, NC.
"It was our first elimination, we're all going through an emotional ride right now," said Filipe Fam, a 26-year-old lube technician from Mesa, AZ.
"Dan needed to stay more than Jerry did," added Ron Morelli, a 54-year-old city councilman and retired food distributor. "Jerry had the support, Jerry asked that we all make sure his name was under that plate, and so that's what we did."
When all of the contestants met following the elimination, Dan made it clear that he was grateful that everyone had chosen to keep him on the ranch.
"I'm beyond appreciative that you guys feel that I deserve to be here," he said.
"Well, [Jerry] wanted to make sure you were here, and that was the right choice," Ron responded.
Although the contestants seemed unified in their decision to keep Dan on the ranch, some nonetheless held some resentment that they had to send home Jerry -- who had worked very hard while he was on the ranch -- while an apparently less-committed contestant like Joelle Gwynn, a 41-year-old non-profit founder from Southfield, MI, got to remain in the competition.
"It is really frustrating when you have two great people [fall below the yellow line] that are in it to change their lives completely and wholely and then you have [another contestant] who is wishy-washy and ends up staying," said Amanda "Mandi" Kramer, a 30-year-old cosmetologist from Boise, ID. "It was kind of upsetting to all of us."
"Joelle's definitely ostracized herself," added Blaine Cotter, a 27-year-old college counselor from Gilbert, AZ. "She doesn't work as hard as everybody else, and she's just kind of crazy, and everybody else feels that way."
For the contestants' first challenge of the week, they met with The Biggest Loser: Couples host Alison Sweeney in a kitchen with a table filled with a variety of snacks ranging from peanut butter cups and cupcakes to pizza and tacos. Alongside each food was a card displaying the amount of calories that each food contained.
The contestants were then told that they would be taking part in a Temptation challenge in which each contestant would be given five minutes alone in the room to eat as much or little food as they wanted.
However, Alison added that each of the contestants' at-home partners had already also had to face the same challenge and that the team that combined to eat the most calories would win a trip to visit their partner at home along with their trainer. However, the results of how much each at-home contestant had eaten would only be revealed after the contestants at the ranch had finished the challenge.
"There will be a winner, not all of [the at-home contestants] resisted temptation," Alison warned.
"Did she just say you get to go home?" Joelle said later of her reaction to the Temptation challenge prize. "I get to get out of here for a couple of days? I get to have some peace and some zen?"
While most of the contestants at the ranch were able to resist the food, Mandi decided to eat one slice of pizza in order to go home and see her kids.
After completing their portion of the Temptation challenge, the contestants at the ranch learned how their teammates had fared. Mandi was saddened when she learned that her sister/Yellow team partner Aubrey Cheney, a 28-year-old information and education specialist from Gooding, ID, had not eaten anything while Sione Fa -- a 28-year-old landscape company owner from Maricopa, AZ who was the cousin and Blue team partner of Filipe -- had taken the lead by eating two slices of pizza and a taco that totaled 960 calories.
However, Sione's calorie intake was dwarfed by Carla Triplett, a 36-year-old assistant bank manager from Southfield, MI who ate three pizza slices, five chicken nuggets, one taco and two cupcakes that totaled 2,710 calories.
Carla's Silver team ended up easily winning the challenge even though Joelle didn't eat anything.
"Carla ate and Carla ate well," a shocked but excited Joelle said after the challenge.
As Joelle celebrated that she would be going home to see Carla, she fell even further out of favor with many of the contestants as her excitement angered Mandi, who had wanted to go home to see her children.
"I did feel like I was the one that deserved to go home, so yeah. I mean I felt kind of bitter about it," an angry Mandi said later. "I definitely think that I do give 120% every day and I was just hoping that I'd get it."
Upon learning that he would be traveling with Joelle to visit Carla only days after he'd blown up and yelled at her during the previous last chance workout, trainer Bob Harper predicted that he was in for an "interesting time" in Detroit.
"Joelle is a mess," he said. "I've got to go to Detroit and tell Carla that she's still in this game, but that her teammate has been running by the skin of her teeth at every single weigh-in."
Once in Detroit, Bob sat down with Joelle and Carla to discuss Joelle's recent struggles on the ranch.
"Joelle has gotten me to a place that no other contestant has before," Bob told Carla regarding his shouting at her the week prior.
"Is it me?" Joelle asked.
"At times you can push people's buttons," Carla responded. She later revealed that she was very frustrated to hear of Joelle's lack of effort on the ranch while she had been working hard at home.
"If you worked so hard to bring me back and then I didn't lose any weight, how would you feel?" she asked Joelle.
Joelle and Carla's private workouts with Bob -- which were also part of the Temptation prize -- began well, with Carla raving about how much she missed being pushed to work harder by him. However, in an attempt to get Joelle motivated, Carla repeatedly told Joelle to work harder during the workout and often criticized her commitment. After hearing too much of the criticism, Joelle snapped back at Carla after throwing her weights down.
"[Bob's] the coach. I need your support!" she screamed at Carla. [We need to] support each other working out, we're working out. So push yourself, I'm pushing me!"
"I'm pushing for the both of us!" Carla responded. "Do what you gotta do to bring me back!"
The arguing between Carla and Joelle continued to the point where Bob had to step in after Carla risked a back injury by putting too much weight on a bench press and tried to lift it to prove her motivation.
"Joelle and Carla were fighting so much because they don't know how to communicate with one another," Bob said later.
Before returning to the ranch, Carla tried once again to motivate Joelle by pushing her to commit fully to her workouts.
"You're not only jeopardizing your future, but mine too," Carla said angrily.
However, Joelle chose not to respond to her partner's statements.
"I felt like this was a bunch of doo-ca-ca, and I just wanted them to shut it up," Joelle said later. "I wanted to shut them up."
After seeing the conversation devolve into nothing more than insults, Bob attempted to be positive while throwing his support behind Joelle as well.
"You have to trust your teammate right now," he told Carla. "We're gonna get through this weigh-in, Joelle. I see it... And that's all we need to think about it."
After Joelle returned to the ranch, the contestants met with Alison for their challenge and were told that they would each stand in the way of a swinging beam that they would have to jump over repeatedly. If a contestant tripped on the beam and broke it, they would be eliminated. The last person standing would win immunity at the upcoming weigh-in.
Alison also noted that the last contestant to win the challenge had second-season The Biggest Loser champion Matt Hoover, who had been able to jump over the beam for over 40 minutes.
Joelle, Ron, Dan and Helen Phillips, 47-year-old retired retail manager from Sterling Heights, MI, were all eliminated from the challenge within their first three jumps. While Damien, Filipe and Mandi fared better, they too were all eliminated by their 141st jumps, leaving Dane Patterson, a 27-year-old real estate appraiser from Mesa, AZ, Kristin, and Tara as the final three contestants.
After Dane bowed out on his 701st jump, Kristin and Tara both continued to battle each other and cleared 1,000 jumps as well as the two-hour marker. However, after getting dizzy after two hours and nineteen minutes and 1,030 jumps, Kristin tripped and was eliminated to give immunity to Tara.
"You did so good, we both deserve this," Tara told a saddened Kristin after the challenge.
"Your mom would be so proud of you right now," Helen added as she tried to make Kristin feel better.
"Thank God I won," Tara said later. "I'm safe! I'm safe for another week."
The contestants then went back to the gym to take part in their last chance workouts. Back from Detroit and ready to whip his team into shape, Bob made it known that his team was going to be in for a rough day.
"You better light a candle for every single one of those people, because it's gonna be tough," he said.
However, like the week before, Joelle once again struggled through much of the workout and complained about the intensity of the workout.
The Biggest Loser: Couples' third weigh-in then got underway after the contestants were informed that the two individuals with the lowest weight-loss percentages would fall below the yellow line and be up for elimination.
Tara weighed in first, losing 8 lbs., but was once again immediately declared safe from elimination after winning immunity at the prior challenge.
The Black team of Blaine (12 lbs.) and Dane (18 lbs) combined for the highest percentage of weight loss for the week, shedding a combined 30 lbs. for a 4.21% loss.
Filipe followed in second place, losing 14 lbs. for a 4.14% loss.
Dan came in third, losing 15 lbs. for a loss percentage of 3.56%.
Mandi followed in fourth, losing 8 lbs. for a 3.27% loss.
The Brown team of Mike Morelli, an 18-year-old student from South Lyon, MI, and his father Ron, lost 11 lbs and 9 lbs. respectively, to come in fifth place with a loss percentage of 2.68%.
Helen followed in sixth place, losing 6 lbs. for a 2.53% loss.
Kristin came in seventh, losing 7 lbs. for a 2.11 % loss -- which meant that Joelle ( 6 lbs. for a 2.04% loss) and Damien (4 lbs. for a 1.13% loss) had fallen below the yellow line and would be facing elimination.
"Here it is, with even a six-pound loss I'm below the yellow line," a disappointed Joelle said following the weigh-in. "I know how my relationship is at the house, and now if I have to depend on other people to determine whether or not I stay on the ranch. It's not looking good."
"I'm assuming that it's gonna be [Joelle] that goes home, and if that's the case, Carla is going to kill somebody," added Bob.
Joelle didn't help her case any further when the other contestants asked her whether she wanted to stay at the ranch and she hesitated to answer the question.
"Tara asked her 'Do you want to be in the house?' and she hesitated," said Mike.
"This is horrible," Joelle said after leaving the other contestants to let them discuss who they were going to eliminate. "I'm below the yellow line it's me and Damien. Me and a person who's gotta great connection with the team. I know what's gonna happen. It's my time to go."
Since Damien and Joelle were both part of the group of contestants that Bob was training, Jillian's contestants then told Bob's contestants that they planned to return the previous week's courtesy in which Bob's contestants had let Jillian's contestants determine which of the two Jillian-trained contestants that were up for elimination was voted off.
"Basically for us, we want to know what you guys want us to do," Blaine told Jillian's contestants after they'd made it clear that they wanted to keep Damien and eliminate Joelle.
"[Jillian's team] said 'We respect your decision' so I will be shocked if this vote goes any other way," Kristin said after meeting with the other contestants.
At the elimination ceremony, Alison detailed that the contestant with the most votes would be eliminated, but added that in the event of a tie that Damien would be sent home because he had a lower percentage of weight loss percentage at the weigh-in.
A tie at first seemed unlikely, with Filipe, Ron and Mike, Kristin and Helen casting the first for votes for Joelle. However, Blaine and Dane, Tara and Mandi proceeded to cast their three votes for Damien, leaving the final decision up to Dan's vote.
"It is admiration and excitement to see this person succeed, and with a thankful heart for the inspiration this person has given to me, that I decided to vote for Damien," Dan told the shocked contestants, including Joelle who immediately broke into tears.
"I should be crying," Damien said with a smile to Joelle after learning his fate.
In a post-show update, it was revealed that since going home Damien had lost 74 lbs. and hoped to drop another 126 lbs. by the show's finale. It also stated that Nicole had dropped 76 lbs. and hoped to fit into a size 8 wedding dress for their upcoming wedding.
The next episode of The Biggest Loser: Couples will air on Tuesday, January 27 at 8PM ET/PT on NBC.
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