The contestants hit the Olympic training center and get inspired by some real athletes

By Kate Ward
February 10, 2010 at 05:00 PM EST
Mitchell Haaseth/NBC
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Dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun! As you can see, I’ve got Olympic feva, fellow Biggest Loser fans. (And for those of you who couldn’t tell, that first sentence was me singing the Olympic theme song. Duh.) And I guess I’m not the only one. After all, we are only two days away from the Vancouver Olympics’ opening ceremony. And in a move that I’m sure in no way has anything to do with cross-promotion, NBC has dedicated an entire episode of The Biggest Loser to the athletic event. Yes, the network might be doing this to pull in more viewers for the Olympics, but let’s face it: It’s actually a fitting decision. Bob and Jillian are molding our contestants into athletes, so why not inspire them to work out even harder by showcasing Olympians? So, without further ado, let’s light my recap torch and begin!

Of course, since we were celebrating the winter Olympics, it didn’t seem to make much sense to film our contestants competing against the backdrop of the ranch’s palm trees. So Biggest Loser decided they would take a field trip — and what a field trip! Our contestants were shipped off to the Olympic training center in Colorado Springs. It was a nice change of pace, not only because I’d been starting to get jealous watching everyone frolic in temperate conditions — when will it be spring, friends?! — but also because we got to look at all their different colored hats!

But the scenery wasn’t the only change this week. Ali, wearing a disco ball on her head, informed everyone that they would be competing as individuals. This news greatly disturbed Melissa, who claimed her team would suffer more than the others if separated, because they were husband and wife. I guess there’s some sort of law in Texas that forces married couples to literally be welded together, because otherwise, I’m not sure I follow why they are at a greater disadvantage if separated. Unless it’s like Speed or something, in that if Melissa and Lance are more than 50 inches apart at any time on the ranch, their heads will explode.

Yet, they would have to cope, especially since there would be two people going home this week. The contestant with the lowest percentage weight loss would be immediately eliminated, and the two with the next lowest would face possible elimination. But that’s far, far away folks. Let’s focus on the positives right now, like all the heart-warming Olympic-focused stories that were tossed our way! First we met Allison Jones, an alpine skier, cycler, and member of the U.S. Paralympic Team — who happens to have been born without a right femur. This woman has won four medals — while using only one of her legs! (All those who suddenly feel inadequate, say ”Hey!”)

NEXT: Koli’s crisis of confidence

After sharing Jones’ story, Allison led our contestants to the training center’s own Olympic torch, lighting it as everyone chanted ”U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” Cut from the footage: The moment in which everyone in the small crowd looks around, befuddled as to when they should actually stop chanting ”U.S.A.!” and the awkward pause that likely followed. But I shouldn’t be snarky — this was still a touching moment. And I’m just glad that, for once, Bob didn’t push them to chant, ”Jennie-O! Jennie-O!”

The chant must have pumped everyone up, though, as O’Neal was all ”Seize the day!” with his daughter, Sunshine. But it wasn’t time to work out yet. First, our contestants had to go to the training center’s cafeteria, where they learned what Olympians eat. And, apparently, they can eat as little as 1,600 calories per day, and as much as 8,000 calories per day, depending on the sport. (Luckily, the contestants weren’t taught the Michael Phelps’ 12,000 calorie-a-day pizza and pancake diet, which I only imagined turned into a 20,000 calorie-a-day Cheetos and Nutella diet during the athlete’s post-Olympics bong period.)

Unlike the ranch’s cafeteria, however, there was temptation at the training center. It was especially tough for Stephanie to be around chocolate cake and other sugary foods, as the contestant suffers from a sweet tooth. Luckily, Bob was there to help Stephanie curb her appetite for cakes by offering her a piece of Extra sugar-free gum, which curbs the cravings! This sad trade-off was kind of like asking for a car and getting a mule on roller-skates. If I were Stephanie, I’d almost prefer if Bob had said, ”Here, chew on this Ziploc for awhile.”

Meanwhile, Koli told cameras that he was beginning to struggle, because he just could not get John out of his mind. (Anyone else picture John inside Koli’s thought bubble wearing a Bugs Bunny-esque harem outfit? Just me? Okay.) Why could he not forget the brown team member? Because, according to Koli, John had family, and Koli, apparently, has… nothing. This whole scene was sad — considering how little the grey team member values himself — but also very strange to watch. Koli claims that he wants to run when things get difficult, but this is the same guy who accomplished the impossible just a few weeks ago during the show’s ”wheel the drunk” exercise. What’s up with the change in attitude, Koli? Good thing Bob came around later and convinced Koli that he was, in fact, fan-tastic!

Off to the gym! The best thing about working out at the Olympic training center? The contestants got the opportunity to work out with two Olympians, alpine racer Julia Mancuso, and aerialist Jeret ”Speedy” Peterson. (After watching this episode, I’m beginning to think I need a cool nickname. Kate ”Writer-y” Ward. Kate ”Loser-y” Ward. Kate ”Craz-y” Ward. I’m still working on it.) The two Olympians showed the contestants all sorts of new exercises, like punch-the-bag-with-your-forearm, jump-around-the-traffic-cones, and hop-over-a-paper-ladder. These exercises might have looked simple, but keep in mind the contestants were working out at a different altitude level than they had been at the ranch. And considering the fact that they made Speedy feel ”like a wuss,” you know they did pretty well.

NEXT: Melissa… she’ll tumble for ya

You thought Biggest Loser was done rolling out Olympians? Wrong! Next, Ali introduced short-track speed skater J.R. Celski, who was a little bit like the iPod Mini to Apollo Anton Ohno’s iPod. But J.R. did have an interesting story — the athlete was competing in three Olympic events just months after slicing his leg with his skate blade. (Ouch!) After showing off his battle scar, J.R. showed the contestants their first challenge: They would have to glide across a slide board 500 times. And now, I will share with you what I wrote in my notes while watching J.R. on the slide board: ”OH MY GOD, THIS LOOKS LIKE SO MUCH FUN.” Who didn’t want to try that thing out? And the best part about watching J.R. was the moment I realized we were going to watch Biggest Loser transform into a slapstick comedy. You know the producers were expecting tons of pratfalls — and our contestants didn’t disappoint. Even though Darrell, Miggy, and O’Neal were sitting out, we saw folks like Daris fall on their bums. But the gold medal for best tumble has to go to… Melissa, who collapsed right before she was about to win the competition. (Some of you might cry karma. I’d prefer to think that Jillian donned an invisibility cloak and threw some marbles on Melissa’s slide board.)

So, alas, Melissa was forced to cope with winning the silver medal in this competition, since Sam beat her to the gold. Coming in third place with bronze was our dear Sunshine, whose finish led O’Neal to start screaming with pride. This touching moment automatically allowed me to forgive O’Neal for his ridiculous claim that the fake Olympic competition would help springboard Sunshine to do anything she wants to do in her life now. Because that kind of logic only works if Sunshine wants to become a speed skater. Or a human Zamboni.

You would think our contestants would be given the opportunity to rest after their first challenge, but, come on, you know this is Biggest Loser. So they were led to the lovely Garden of the Gods, where Ali was standing with yet another paralympian, cross-country skier Kelly Underkofler. (The athlete is missing the lower half of her left arm. Score two for my inferiority complex.) There, in the garden, Ali informed the contestants that as part of this challenge, they would be ”aiming towards each other.” Because this isn’t The Most Dangerous Game, Ali quickly told the contestants that they would shoot a laser gun at a target designated for each contestant, and they would not be stabbing each other with javelins, as she previously insinuated. But this challenge was also a biathlon — therefore, the contestants would also have to run around the garden before taking each shot. (Once a contestant was ”shot” five times, they were out of the challenge; the last remaining contestant would eat the losers’ carcasses, er, I mean, win immunity.)

NEXT: Who’s taking a knee?

Because Sunshine was awarded third place in the last challenge, she was told she could hit one target prior to the challenge. And since Sam was a fast runner, Sunshine picked Sam. Second-place winner Melissa got the chance to hit two targets — and she also chose Sam. Before choosing three targets, Sam ate a handful of sour grapes, and awarded two to Melissa and one to Sunshine. And… they’re off! Because the top three finishers of the first challenge shot themselves in the foot Plaxico Burress-style, they were eliminated fairly quickly. Before long, it was down to Ashley, O’Neal, and Darrell. And though Ashley channeled Tanya Harding, claiming she could take out the two men with knee problems, her competition eventually eliminated her. So it was down to Darrell and O’Neal. This, clearly, surprised me, not just because the two guys have knee injuries, but because I forgot that the seemingly mute Darrell was still on the show. This O’Neal fan, however, was happy to see the yellow team member eventually bag the win — and immunity.

This meant Darrell would have to work even harder during his last-chance workout back at the ranch. And though the contestants had left Colorado Springs, Biggest Loser had one more surprise waiting for them at the ranch: Pairs figure skater Rockne Brubaker. Bob, however, was also surprised when he saw Rockne — the trainer said the guy looked more like a rugby player than a figure skater. Because, in Bob’s mind, figure skaters must wear sequins everywhere they go.

Are you ready for O’Neal’s 45,395th inspirational moment of the episode? Okay, get your slow claps ready! During last-chance workout, the yellow team member managed to stand on a Bose ball and do squats, a proud moment for the injury-plagued contestant. Bob said O’Neal’s face lit up the entire gym during that moment, and I can tell you that my tears filled my entire office watching that moment. (Hold on, putting on my goggles and nose plugs.) O’Neal, O’Neal, he’s my man! If he can’t do it, no one ca — glug, glug, glug.

Time for the weigh-in, folks. And this one was an important weigh-in. Let’s see how they all did this week:

O’Neal: -8 pounds. Percentage weight loss: 2.40 (Immune)

Michael: -11 pounds. Percentage weight loss: 2.48

Stephanie -4 pounds. Percentage weight loss: 1.78

Sunshine: -6 pounds. Percentage weight loss: 2.45

Koli: -9 pounds. Percentage weight loss: 2.69

Andrea: -7 pounds. Percentage weight loss: 2.67

Darrell: -5 pounds. Percentage weight loss: 1.46

Sam: -12 pounds. Percentage weight loss: 3.87

Sherry: -3 pounds. Percentage weight loss: 1.67

Ashley: -6 pounds. Percentage weight loss: 1.89

Daris: -9 pounds. Percentage weight loss: 3.18

Cheryl: -3 pounds. Percentage weight loss: 1.55

Miggy: -7 pounds. Percentage weight loss: 3.40

Lance: -9 pounds. Percentage weight loss: 2.87

Melissa: +1 pound.

NEXT: A head-to-head battle

Well, it looks like this was the one week it wasn’t advantageous for Melissa to gain a pound. Unfortunately for Lance, his fellow red team member was automatically eliminated, but Melissa begged the remaining contestants to keep Lance in long enough so he can dip below 250 pounds. And after Melissa left the ranch, it looks like she did pretty well for herself: The red team member lost a total of 58 pounds, and is looking quite svelte these days. Or, as her son said in a moment his therapist will focus on for years to come, ”She looks hot!” Holy Oedipus complex, Batman!

But, wait, there’s still another elimination! Because this week was rhyming week, Cheryl and Darrell were the other two contestants who had to face walking off the ranch. In the spirit of competition, however, there would not be a vote to decide who would go. Nope, this week, Cheryl and Darrell would face off in one final competition. Hell yes! The only thing that would be better than a head-to-head elimination challenge is if we got to find out who won this challenge this week! But, yea, that’s not going to happen. Figures. Though we won’t find out who is leaving until next week, we left Cheryl and Darrell balancing giant torch stems on their heads, in an attempt to hold up an Olympic-like torch. Which one will blow their knees out first? I’d put my money on Darrell, if only because we saw him speak far more than Cheryl during this episode. And according to the reality TV Bible, that does not bode well for the black team member.

To be continued, fellow Biggest Loser fans. Are you happy that Melissa is gone? Who do you think will lose the elimination challenge? Are you still digging O’Neal? Were you inspired by the Olympians’ stories? Were you bummed that Michael didn’t break Rudy’s record? Did you, like me, notice that Sam is starting to look jacked? And, finally, how are we feeling about Daris’ beard? (And yes, for those of you who say he resembles Richard Simmons — you’re right!)

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Contestants battle the bulge and each other in the competitive weight-loss series
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