The Challenge: World Championship finale recap: And the winners are...
The first official The Challenge: World Championship winners have finally been crowned! Who crossed the finish line in triumph — and who didn't finish at all in the grueling two-day final? Let's recap...
Before the final begins, the four remaining teams — Team U.K.'s Jordan and Kaz, Team U.S.A.'s Theo and Sarah, and Danny and Tori, and Team Australia's Troy and Kaycee — board the Fear Express train, and they get a good night's sleep in their tiny bunk beds. When they wake up in the morning, they exit the train and head to the starting line, where TJ, dressed like an old-timey train conductor, gives them the rundown for the first leg of the final, which is pretty straightforward. Named "Loops of Hell," the teams are going to be completing exactly that, running four four-mile loops and completing checkpoints after each one. It's all long-distance running and checkpoints that will make or break teams. Let's get it started!
The horn blows, and Jordan and Kaz take an early lead. It's not effortless though — Kaz is already feeling the cramps and yelling in pain, with Jordan encouraging her to keep going. Soon they're overtaken by Danny and Tori and Troy and Kaycee, who have proven that they're a strong team to watch out for after three elimination wins.
It's not long before the first injury hits. Before he even makes it to the first checkpoint, Theo rolls his ankle on the uneven terrain. You absolutely hate to see it, especially this early on in the final! Theo's a beast, though, and he refuses to quit despite the agony he's in. He pushes past the pain and tells Sarah to keep moving.
Troy and Kaycee reach the checkpoint first, so they get to pick which of the four to complete. Troy wants to do "Weight For It," which he previously did in the premiere qualifier, where they arrange all the short poles from lightest to heaviest and memorize the order. Kaycee agrees, so they get started. Danny and Tori reach the checkpoint next, and they choose "Throwing Shade," where they have to throw three giant bolts into a bin without missing a shot. If they miss any, they have to start over. Tori quickly realizes they might have picked the worst one since it'll likely take the most time, but it's too late to swap, so former NFL player Danny takes over.
Jordan and Kaz arrive to the checkpoints third, and they pick "Crack the Code," a mental puzzle, which leaves "Sick Smoothie," the same gross eating challenge from the qualifier, for Sarah and Theo when they finally arrive. Jordan and Kaz definitely chose correctly, because thanks to Kaz, they breeze through their checkpoint and start their second four-mile lap in first place, making a massive jump ahead of two teams. This could be a game-changing moment right here.
Danny and Tori finally finish theirs and move on, with Troy and Kaycee finishing in third. Theo and Sarah struggle to choke down their smoothies, but they finally get it done and start on their second lap, although Theo's limp is becoming more and more visible. I sense disaster looming...
After four miles, Jordan and Kaz start on their second checkpoint — "Weight For It" — and when Tori and Danny arrive after them, they choose "Crack the Code." Troy and Kaycee have to do the smoothies when they arrive, and they start to feel dejected as they watch Jordan and Kaz breeze through yet another checkpoint and widen their lead on the other teams. But Tori and Danny are hot on their heels, finishing the checkpoint and beginning their third four-mile lap. Troy and Kaycee eventually finish their smoothies and stay in third.
This third loop is where the mileage really starts to break the players down. Kaz can barely get a deep breath, and Jordan's yelling at her to keep moving. Tori and Danny are both lagging, and Kaycee is using two walking sticks and literally leaning on Troy for support. But none of them are as bad as Theo. He and Sarah are incredibly far behind, since Theo's limp has slowed them down to a crawl. It's tough to watch, because they know there's no way they're going to win at this point, but Theo refuses to quit. He's determined to finish, and Sarah's proud of his dedication. They finally arrive at their second checkpoint and start on "Crack the Code" as Jordan and Kaz lap them and finish their third checkpoint, "Throwing Shade," in no time at all. Sarah and Theo are absolutely devastated to finish after them — that's a surefire way to zap all their energy, getting lapped by a team who looks like they're doing it without even breaking a sweat.
Eventually, Danny and Tori finish "Weight For It" easily and trail Jordan and Kaz for the final lap, with Troy and Kaycee finishing "Throwing Shade" quickly and moving on in third place. Still on their third lap, Sarah starts telling Theo that whatever happens next is his choice, as it's becoming clear that despite his wishes, he's not going to be able to finish. It's his worst fear becoming reality.
Jordan and Kaz arrive for their last checkpoint, and the one they have left to complete is the smoothies. Unfortunately, that's also the same checkpoint Danny and Tori still have to do, so after they arrive, they have to wait for Jordan and Kaz to finish before they can even start. And since Kaz is really struggling to choke it down, Tori starts to panic knowing that Kaycee and Troy could overtake them at any minute. Jordan encourages Kaz through it, and they finally finish, ending the day in first place, right as Kaycee and Troy run up to the checkpoint station to start on "Crack the Code." Just as Troy predicted earlier, the smoothies are the hardest checkpoint, and that gives him and Kaycee the edge they need to pass Tori and Danny and finish the first day in second place.
Meanwhile, back out on the loop, Theo can't even make it back to the checkpoint station. He has to get off his feet, and as he sits down, he finally accepts that due to his ankle, he can't keep going. Theo and Sarah medically DQ as an ambulance comes to pick them up. There's no worse way to go out — well, other than a voluntary quit. But at least Theo still tried to finish despite the pain. He's a true legend... but one who is still without a championship.
Now there are only three teams left, and the standings after day one are: Jordan and Kaz in first, Troy and Kaycee in second, and Danny and Tori in third. Back on the train, the three teams are sad to hear that Sarah and Theo DQed, but they also know that means their chances at winning just got a lot higher. TJ offers the teams IVs to replenish their fluids, but since there's only one per team, Kaycee, Kaz, and Danny are the ones who get them, plus a bed for a few hours to rest. Their partners Troy, Jordan, and Tori are forced to get comfy on a bench instead.
Then TJ brings them to the Luxury Liner car, gives them 1920s finery to change into, and treats them to a fancy dinner with champagne. This is definitely a first! Finalists never get treated like this. There's always a twist. That's why no one is surprised when TJ comes back an hour later to deliver the bad news: They're not getting any sleep tonight. If anyone falls asleep, they'll get shocked by the collar that's attached to their necks. But the producers aren't total monsters: Jordan and Kaz's 14-minute lead from day one means they earned an hour of sleep. Second place finishers Troy and Kaycee get 30 minutes of sleep, and third place Danny and Tori get 15 minutes. Sounds delightful.
Forced to stay up all night after a brutal 16-mile race, the hours start to drag on. The players can't help but get more and more comfortable on the chairs and the floor. Sleep starts to pull some of them under, so they dunk their faces in buckets of ice water and toss cups of water in each others' faces. It's a total group effort to keep everyone awake until their sleeping times finally begin after sunrise.
All too soon, TJ wakes them to start the second, and final, day of hell. The teams are absolutely exhausted, and Kaycee is literally in tears. We've never seen her this down bad before, especially from a physical standpoint. But she's determined to keep going, and Troy is being a great supportive partner for her.
At the starting line, TJ announces this is the last leg of the final, appropriately named "Race to the Finish." It's a long bike ride followed by an even longer foot race, so it's all endurance when they're at their lowest. And in the most unfair twist, the prior day's standings don't matter at all. Jordan and Kaz are now back to equal footing with Kaycee and Troy, and Danny and Tori, which is ridiculous. The only benefit they got was a little extra sleep. This might be one of the most unfair ways to start the second day of a final we've ever seen.
As the race begins, Tori reveals she doesn't really ride bikes (and is actually scared of them after crashing into a mailbox as a kid), so she and Danny end up in last place again, right away. Troy and Kaycee finish the bike ride in first place, with Jordan and Kaz right behind them in second place. But Jordan pulls Kaz with him until they pass Kaycee and Troy on the run and get their first place standing back pretty quickly. Kaycee and Troy start to accept that they're not winning this final, since Kaycee's really starting to feel her body shut down. But then Troy proves that he really is a Challenge legend by putting Kaycee on his back and continuing on like it's nothing. Only true Challenge champs pull off a move like that in the final!
As Danny and Tori finally finish their bike ride and start on the footrace, Jordan and Kaz reach a checkpoint with a slider puzzle. Kaycee and Troy arrive at the checkpoint while Jordan and Kaz are still working on it and fighting with each other, giving them a chance to take first place again. But Jordan and Kaz eventually finish and move on still in first, while Troy continues on the puzzle as Kaycee just rests. And then out of nowhere, Danny and Tori make up for lost time and join Troy and Kaycee at the checkpoint.
Troy and Kaycee finish first and move on to the final climb up the mountain, with Danny and Tori right behind them. But since Kaycee is struggling so hard to keep moving, Danny and Tori ultimately pass them on the trail. Jordan and Kaz reach the top first, grab a key, and learn they have to now go right back down the mountain to reach the finish line back where they started. At least it's all downhill from here! The other two teams eventually grab their keys and hike back down too.
After their performance throughout the entire final, it's no surprise here: Jordan and Kaz cross the finish line in first place, winning The Challenge: World Championship. After four years, Jordan finally got his elusive fourth win, and Kaz proved she's no one-hit wonder, getting her second title after winning The Challenge: U.K. Meanwhile, Tori and Danny finish in second, and while Tori's proud of getting second place, Danny knows they should have targeted Jordan more during the season to avoid this exact outcome. And Kaycee and Troy finish in third place, which isn't bad for a team who lost their original partners due to medical reasons so late in the season.
And with that, we have our first Challenge World Champions! Check back to EW later today for our interview with Jordan about what wasn't shown in the finale, how this final stacked up against all the others he's run in the past, and more.
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