'The Biggest Loser: Couples' cuts nine contestants in opening twist
By John Bracchitta, 01/07/2009
The Biggest Loser Couples' second edition premiered last night on NBC with a surprising twist that saw the elimination of nine members of the 11 teams of two who are participating on the NBC reality weight-loss competition.
The nine contestants sent home following the competition's initial elimination weigh-in were the Pink team's Shanon Thomas, a 29-year-old massage therapist from Centerline, MI; the Blue team's Sione Fa, a 28-year-old landscape company owner from Maricopa, AZ; the Silver team's Carla Triplett, a 36-year-old assistant bank manager from Southfield, MI; the Green team's Laura Denoux, a 24-year-old sales director and former model from Miami, FL; the Yellow team's Aubrey Cheney, a 28-year-old information and education specialist from Gooding, ID; the Red team's Nicole Brewer, a 37-year-old wardrobe stylist from Brooklyn, NY; the Orange team's David Lee, a 23-year-old student from Fuquay-Varina, NC; the Purple team's Cathy Skell, a 48-year-old title sales closing agent from Shiocton, WI; and the White team's Estella Hayes, a 63-year-old retired nurse from Wheaton, IL.
Prior to the weigh-in, The Biggest Loser host Alison Sweeney had informed the 11 teams that, in a surprise twist, each of the teams -- with the exception of the Black team, which had already won immunity from elimination via their victory in an earlier challenge -- would have to send one member of their team home if their team didn't end up being the team with the highest weight-loss percentage at the weigh-in.
However, after the weigh-in finished, Alison also informed the downtrodden contestants that -- in a second, but comparatively predictable, twist -- the nine contestants sent home would get to return to The Biggest Loser ranch if their teammate was still in the competition after 30 days.
"I definitely wanna convince everybody in America that it can be done at home," Shanon said following her elimination. "You don't need to have this safety net around you to lose weigh. I think it will inspire a lot of people"
"Going home I can definitely make it work," said Sione. "I know the level in which I can push myself. I just look at this as a short goodbye, not an end to the long road that we started on."
"You'll see me soon America," added Carla. When I come back you better watch out."
The Biggest Loser: Couples' second season premiere began with Alison greeting eleven teams of couples in a Los Angeles hotel and revealing that they had been chosen to be on the show.
After being transported to the ranch, the teams hooted and hollered as they enter the gym for the first time along with Alison.
"Walking in that gym, I was so excited," said the Green team's Filipe Fam, a 26-year-old real estate appraiser from Mesa, AZ. "I'm actually here at the [gym] where [trainers Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels] kill people!"
However, Alison quickly revealed that the teams would have to wait for their first session with the trainers, and would instead have to immediately begin their first workout on their own. As the contestants meandered around the gym attempting to exercise, Bob and Jillian watched them through hidden cameras and realized that they truly would have their work cut out for them this season.
"I expect the contestants to be lost, to be lost in their lives. But for the first time in the history of The Biggest Loser, I looked at contestants and thought 'Wow, these guys are big," Jillian said.
"This is reality," added Bob. "You wanna see what's going on in America, turn on The Biggest Loser because here's what America looks like right now."
The contestants received a firsthand reminder of the harsh reality of their poor health when the White team's Gerald "Jerry" Hayes, a 63-year-old retired engineer from Wheaton, IL needed medical assistance following the workout, passed out and needed to leave the ranch in an ambulance for tests.
"I was afraid that I was having to see a loved one leave me and it was very scary," Estella said after watching her husband's struggle.
"When Jerry fell, that was the moment I thought to myself, we're all sick," said Cathy. "I mean, we really need help here."
"I think we want you to understand right off the bat that it is about life and death" Jillian told the remaining contestants after Jerry had been transported to the hospital. "You guys are exactly where you need to be right now because you're looking at your future if you don't change what you're doing right now."
The the contestants were then split amongst the two trainers, with Bob ending up with the Silver team of Carla and her best friend Joelle Gwynn, a 41-year-old non-profit founder from Southfield, MI; the Blue team of Sione and his cousin Filipe Fam, a 26-year-old lube technician from Mesa, AZ; the Red team of Nicole and her fiance Damien Gurganious, a 31-year-old industrial designer from Brooklyn, NY; the Pink team of Shanon and her mother Helen Phillips, 47-year-old retired retail manager from Sterling Heights, MI; the Brown team of Ron Morelli, a 54-year-old city councilman and retired food distributor from South Lyon, MI, and his son Mike Morelli, an 18-year-old student; and the Purple team of Cathy and her daughter Kristin Steede, a 28-year-old business owner from Greenville, WI.
The contestants chosen to work out under Jillian's watch included the White team of Estellla and Jerry; the Black team of Blaine Cotter, a 27-year-old college counselor from Gilbert, AZ, and his cousin Dane Patterson, a 27-year-old real estate appraiser from Mesa, AZ; the Green team of Laura and her best friend Tara Costa, a 23-year-old finance manager and former model from New York, NY; the Orange team of David and his friend Daniel Wright, a 19-year-old student from Willow Spring, NC; and they Yellow team of Aubrey and her sister Amanda Kramer, a 30-year-old cosmetologist from Boise, ID.
The contestants then went to the scale for their initial weigh-in. Among the notable weights that the scale revealed were Kristin's 360 lbs. weight, which made her the heaviest woman to ever weigh-in on the show. However, she only held the undistinguished title for a few moments, as Carla weighed in at 370 lbs.
"These are the numbers I usually see on the men on this show," a shocked Bob said of the women's high weigh-in numbers.
Daniel also made The Biggest Loser history as the heaviest contestant ever to weigh-in on the show at 454 lbs. When combined with Dave's 393 lbs., the Orange team's combined weight of 847 was also the heaviest that any team on the show had ever weighed-in at.
"Its literally the biggest season in The Biggest Loser history," said Bob. "I've never seen a cast so big. I don't think I'm gonna get any sleep this season."
The contestants then participated in their first workout. Jillian lived up to her tough reputation, hounding Laura as she struggled to breathe while on the treadmill, broke into tears and eventually threw up while running.
"Today's workout was ridiculous," Laura said later.
That evening, the contestants were relieved when Jerry returned to the ranch. After revealing that he had passed out because of a drop in blood pressure during his workout, Jerry said that he had realized that he needed to change his unhealthy ways immediately.
"I realize that I'm in much worse shape than I thought I was in," he said. "I wanna get going on this thing to get my life turned around."
The contestants then met with Alison on a bridge in downtown Los Angeles for their first challenge, where they were told that they would be competing in a foot race that required each team to run from one end of the bridge to the other and back while navigating their way over a huge pile of sand.
The first five teams to have both of their members cross the finish line would advance to the second round. The first two teams to finish the second round would then move on to the final round, where the winner would receive immunity at the upcoming first weigh-in of the season.
"You are in between two lives, the unhappy, unhealthy life that you used to lead, and the happier, healthier life that awaits you," Alison told them. "There is a bridge that is going to get you there, and that bridge is filled with challenges."
After becoming the first five teams to finish the first round, the Yellow, Black, Blue, Green, and Red teams moved on to the second round. The Yellow and Black teams moved onto the final round, which was won by the Black team after Dane's reach with his arm put him ahead of Aubrey by only a single step.
"It sucked really bad to lose, I was just like 'Oh I so thought we were gonna win, we gave it everything," a disappointed Mandi said following the race.
"We are on The Biggest Loser, and we have freaking immunity, there's nothing better!" an ecstatic Blaine said after his victory.
After going to Cedar Sinai hospital to meet with The Biggest Loser's physician Dr. Wayne Huizenga to learn more about the ill effects of their weight gain and see the results of tests that included a body mass analysis, bone/tissue analysis, an endurance test and an M.R.I, the teams returned to the ranch where they took part in their first last chance workout of the season.
While Laura continued to struggle under Jillian's watch, Bob noticed that Joelle was doing "a lot of talking, but not a lot of working out," and that he would have to make her change her ways.
The teams then gathered for their first weigh-in with Alison and learned about the twist that would force every team except for the immunity-winning Black team and the team that scored the highest percentage of weight loss at the weigh-in to send one member home.
"When Alison announced the twist, I was devastated. I was just like are you kidding me! We've only been here for a week," said Aubrey. "We fought so hard for immunity and we missed it by two inches. I'm not ready to go home."
The Black team couple of Dane (20 lbs.) and Blaine (14 lbs.) weighed in first because of their immunity, netting a weight loss percentage of 4.36%.
The Brown team ended up being the other team that got to avoid sending a contestant home, as they won the weigh-in with a 6.60% loss from Ron (22 lbs.) and Ron, whose 32 lbs. loss ranked as the biggest single-week weight loss in the show's history.
The Green team followed in second among the ten elimination-eligible teams, with Laura (13 lbs.) and Tara (21 lbs.) netting a 5.87%.
The White team came in third, with Jerry (25 lbs.) and Estella (9 lbs.) having a losing 5.56%.
The Orange team of Daniel (30 lbs.) and David (16 lbs.) finished in third with a 5.43% loss.
The Blue team followed, with Filipe (17 lbs.) and Sione (23 lbs.) netting a 5.43% loss.
The Red team of Nicole (18 lbs.) and Damien (17 lbs.) finished with a 5.38% loss.
The Yellow team finished next, with Mandi (12 lbs.) and Aubrey (23 lbs.) netting a 4.88% loss.
The Purple team of Kristin (19 lbs.) and Cathy (12 lbs.) finished next with a 4.75% loss.
The Pink team of Helen (12 lbs.) and Shanon (13 lbs.) netted a 4.63% loss, while the Silver team of Carla (11 lbs.) and Joelle (13 lbs) finished in last place with a 3.49% loss.
Alison then revealed the second twist and informed the teams that the nine contestants sent home would get to return to The Biggest Loser ranch if their teammate was still in the competition after 30 days.
After the teams were given time to deliberate and make their decision as to which contestant to send home, they revealed their choices to Alison one-by-one in the elimination room.
The teams made it clear that they intended to do whatever it takes to reconcile with their other team member in 30 days, even if they had their doubts.
"It's gonna be really hard for me to go home right now because I don't have Tara there and because I have to do it all by myself," Laura said after announcing that she would be going home.
"I have no doubt that in 30 days Danny's gonna have me back here," said David of his partner. "In 30 days I'll be back."
"Aubrey means everything to me. We've always been there for each other," Aubrey added. "Realizing that we're gonna be apart was miserable."
The next episode of The Biggest Loser: Couples will air on Tuesday, January 13 at 8PM ET/PT on NBC.
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