5 MVP moments from the first half of Canada's Ultimate Challenge
Although the challenges are tough so are these competitors
Twenty-four strangers, 6 teams: all competing to win Canada's Ultimate Challenge. In the first four episodes, there have been heartbreaking moments as our fierce competitors have tried to capture the points their teams need to avoid elimination.
But there have also been some amazing feats of athleticism. Here are some of our favourite MVP moments from the first half of the series.
Em zooms past the other players on a very steep hill
In the first challenge at Whistler Olympic Park, teams had to complete a relay obstacle course which included running UP a steep 140-metre vertical slope that skiers usually travel down. The wild part of the course, says host Craig McMorris, is "once you hit that thirty-seven-degree incline your legs enter the pain cave and it is so difficult to keep going."
Rachael Spurling from Team Teal takes an early lead on the mountain. But out of nowhere, Team Yellow's Em Donkers rockets into second with incredible speed. "There's no stopping me now," Em remembers thinking, "all that is in my head is just push!" They overtake Racheal giving team member Victoria Coman, who is last in the relay, a generous lead. Thanks to Em's amazing sprint, Team Yellow takes the win.
Kate carries two 5-kg bags with her jaw over a bridge
The pressure is on for Team Yellow when Victoria drops a 5-kg bag off a bridge and into the Yukon River below. The mistake costs them a 3-minute penalty, but coach Waneek Horn-Miller encourages the team to double down to stay in the game.
To make up time and get all 20 burlap bags to the other side Kate Fabien-Ferrol grabs two bags — weighing more than 10 kg — and carries them in her jaw! Other players take note and do the same. Averting a last-place finish, this gutsy tactic earns Team Yellow a second place — even WITH a three-minute penalty.
"The most successful people in the world are the ones that, when they fail, they get up and they come back even stronger," says coach Waneek.
Franz, the oldest competitor handily wins the suspension bridge challenge
Players were faced with the daunting task of completing an obstacle course underneath B.C.'s Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge located 100 metres above the valley floor.
Most coaches picked younger, lighter players who they thought would have the upper body strength to complete this difficult solo challenge. But not Coach Donovan Bailey, who selected Franz Wellington, the oldest player in the game for the job. "I think that he's gonna surprise a lot of people as he evolves into a balanced athlete. I think at 52 he can do some serious things."
In an amazing display of what a 50+-year-old's body is capable of doing, Franz handily wins the challenge earning his team six points.
"I put every ounce of energy I had and I just performed. What I would like to get from Donovan Bailey would be for him to be proud of me. Not only as an athlete but as an individual," said Franz afterwards.
Vinny rockets up a 30-metre tree in Hinton, Alberta
Deep in the forest near the Athabasca River, players need to use their upper body strength to climb a 30-metre tree AND then scramble along a 60-metre slackline before they ring a bell to finish.
Confident in his climbing abilities, Vinny Rojas takes on the solo challenge for Team Orange, "I feel this is down my alley, I am excited to go." Going second to last, he's got to beat Skylar's (Team Blue) top speed so far. With incredible upper-body power, he speeds up the tree and over the slack line in a record 1.31 minutes.
A solid strategy gives Team Blue their first team challenge win
Tensions were high in Episode 4 as teams faced the first elimination round. At KF Aerospace in Kelowna, B.C., players have to pull a 10,000-kg plane 50 metres down a tarmac — and they quickly learn that it will take more than muscle to get it moving.
Team Blue's Louis Ngo takes control of the team's strategy. He suggests pulling the plane facing forward to maximize that leg power — the only team to try that approach. "Wow, their strategy's working," says host Craig McMorris, "this is the fastest we have seen the plane moving."
In a surprising win, Team Blue rockets out of last place and into 4th in their most successful team challenge yet.
"It's about technique, communicating, working together and coming up with a plan and sticking with it," says coach Clara Hughes.
What gets your vote as an MVP moment? And what will happen in the final 4 episodes?
Watch Canada's Ultimate Challenge on CBC Gem.
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