This Challenge season’s crop of victors have scaled mountains, drunk blood and burrowed through snow drifts to claim victory — but can they grapple with their most difficult test yet: contending with 10 professional athletes?
If Tuesday night’s premiere of Champs vs. Pros was any indication…not really.
At the get-go, new host Victor Cruz announced that at the end of the season, only one man and one woman would be crowned ultimately Challenge champions, and straight out of the gate, the team of 10 Pros — which included NFL legends, an Olympic heptathlete and ski and snowboard icons — gave decisive evidence it would claim both titles.
The game’s first mission, “Against The Ropes” borrowed from a previous Free Agents mission and challenged both teams to get as many players as possible across a suspended obstacle course while being forced to climb over each other. Cara Maria, Jordan and Johnny Bananas, who’d played the game before, started talking trash, sure they had it all in the bag.
“Maybe you’ve won a Super Bowl, maybe you’ve got an Olympic medal, but welcome to The Challenge — it’s a little different,” Cara Maria said. “You have no idea what it’s like until you’re in it.”
“If these pros are showing up to this Challenge thinking that they’re gonna face off against a bunch of reality television stars, then they better pack a lunch, because it’s gonna be a long day at the office,” Bananas echoed.
But in the first heat, the Champs put up a showing that was hardly worthy of “SportsCenter” coverage, as only Camila successfully traversed the structure, while Wes plummeted into the water. And their second pass didn’t fare much better — not only did they fail to notch a single additional point, but four out of five competitors fell.
Meanwhile, the Pros came out swinging, and track and field star Louise Hazel, pro surfer Tia Blanco and skier and Olympic medalist Gus Wenworthy all successfully crossed. Gus, who nearly slipped into the water, managed to pull himself up onto the final platform and fired up his team in the process. And when Kamerion Wimbley navigated the series of ropes in Round 2, the game was all but wrapped up.
“They’re competing against the best athletes in the world, and they forgot that? I don’t know…they’re like the recess champs,” champion hurdler Lolo Jones mocked. “Maybe they were drinking before they got here.”
And the Champs felt the sting of defeat.
“They’re showing us up in our own house,” Cara conceded.
Still, with Candice Wiggins as the Pros’ first casualty, the newest Challenge recruits will definitely have a little less spirit at the game’s second pass.
But what do you think: Can the Champs recover, and will they be able to fend off the crew of professional athletes? Or are they totally cooked, and are the Pros right to reduce them to ragtag reality TV stars? Share your thoughts, and see how both teams fare on next week’s episode Tuesday night 9/8c!