Warning: This article contains spoilers for Wednesday's episode of The Challenge: USA.
Big Brother alum Xiao and Love Island alum St. Clair were thrown into the elimination because St. Clair had pulled a muscle during the exhausting daily challenge obstacle course. And thanks to a faulty tire-stacking strategy, Xiao and St. Clair lost the elimination against Enzo Palumbo and Justine Ndiba and were sent home.
But when speaking to EW about their exit, Xiao and St. Clair revealed that they had to run the daily challenge twice — and the second time further aggravated St. Clair's injury, making it even harder for her to compete in the running elimination the next day (on sand, no less). Below, the eliminated team reveals what else viewers didn't see that led to their exit.
Jonne Roriz/CBS Shannon St. Clair and Derek Xiao on 'The Challenge: USA'
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How are you feeling about the way things ended for you on The Challenge: USA now that you got to watch it play out on screen?
DEREK XIAO: Honestly after it happened, I wasn't mad at it, I was mad at myself. Very mad at myself because of my strategy with the stacking. And then I just felt such a strong competitive drive. I wasn't ready to leave that house yet. I wanted to compete more, and I felt like I hadn't really shown what I could do. I remember coming home and I saw my girlfriend and I was like, "I still want to keep competing. Can we sign up for a marathon? Can we go do a Spartan Race? Maybe I should play competitive poker. I just want to win. All I want to do is win right now." That has since faded a little bit. I still have the competitive drive in me, but it's not as intense as it was as when I first got off the show.
SHANNON ST. CLAIR: We both blamed ourselves. I felt like I had let him down by being the injured one, the height imbalance was really bad — that was a struggle because I'm 5'1" and he's 6-foot, so I felt like I was bringing Derek down and taking him away from the experience. We both just blamed ourselves in different ways. But then after watching it last night, all the emotions came back and I was proud of us because I saw how close it actually was.
It really came down to the last few seconds.
XIAO: Which makes it a little bit worse. But it was close.
ST. CLAIR: Even TJ was rooting for all of us. He even lost his voice, and I could tell he's not usually that passionate in circumstances like this.
XIAO: This was also the first elimination that had public lines, like there was a line in the house and you can even see it when you looked at the people standing up there: Half the people were on one side and half were on the other side. It was just publicly known, and everyone was cheering as loud as they could for the people they wanted to win. Even TJ was screaming and I was like, "What are you screaming for, TJ? Just blow that horn!"
Shannon, during the challenge you shouted that you pulled a muscle. How bad was your injury at the time?
ST. CLAIR: It was pretty bad. It was at a 9 or 10. A little behind-the-scenes [intel] is that me and Derek actually had to run and do the challenge again. We didn't just do it once.
ST. CLAIR: I had to do it while I was hurt because we got the equation wrong, which wasn't shown. It hurt even more after doing the daily twice, and then by the time elim came around, I used numbing spray, Tiger Balm — Derek knows I was like bathing in it. I was taking Advil, Tylenol, whatever I could to just get myself physically right. But I mean, running in the sand with a pulled hamstring is absolutely horrid. But I'm a competitor. When I'm out there, I'm blacked out. I don't care if I have an injury. I'm not going to embarrass myself, I'm not going to let my partner down, and I just gunned it and did the best that I could. I was proud that I pulled through, but man, the healing process after leaving, it was rough. It all came back to me how badly I actually hurt it in the elim as well.
XIAO: I definitely have to give her props because I honestly don't know if I could have done the same thing that she did, to have pulled a muscle and the very next day done a challenge that tests that exact muscle group. She pulled a hamstring and then did a running challenge, in the sand, carrying heavy tires. It's wild.
ST. CLAIR: It was like worst-case scenario.
But you never quit!
ST. CLAIR: I wanted to! I wanted to lay down on the ground and roll around in the sand and say, "I'm out!" but I couldn't do that.
XIAO: Why don't we all just build a sand castle? Why is everyone running? [Laughs] But our castle also would have fallen. I'd be like, "Why don't we just build it straight up? Shannon, this is genius."
It's surprising to hear that you had to run the challenge twice, because the way it was edited made it seem like everyone did it once except for Ben and Sarah.
XIAO: Ben and Sarah for sure did it twice. Angela and Dom definitely did it twice. I think Cayla and Leo did it twice? They might have done it once, actually.
ST. CLAIR: No, I think they did it twice.
XIAO: David and Desi did it in one go. Alyssa and Danny did it in one go, and then Kyland and Cash did it in one go. So the three of them were the only ones that we thought were in contention to win. But really everyone took themselves out, it was like everyone had an injury or they didn't remember something or somebody did the math wrong and they lost the challenge. Everyone else just couldn't complete it.
When David and Desi voted you into elimination, did you have any idea that was coming? Who did you think they were going to throw in?
ST. CLAIR: We thought they were going to throw in Cayla and Leo. Also David was making some remarks about making a big shift, a big game play, so we thought that maybe he would pull a big move and throw Tyson in. But we knew that with my injury and the lack of like alliance relationships with Desi and David — because David was kind of a wild card even though Derek and David are Big Brother, we never really knew, and we didn't really have a social game with Desi, we're really good friends with her and we always have been, especially outside of this — we knew that no matter what, our names were going to be thrown around.
XIAO: Basically, Desi knew from the [get-go] that it was going to be us for her. And then David was holding out thinking that maybe he can put in someone else that made more sense for his game. But then eventually Desi won him over and we ended up going in.
During that elimination, you two had an advantage with five fewer tires to transfer, but then also the way you stacked your tires they kept falling, so at what point did you realize this wasn't going your way?
XIAO: Literally when TJ honked the horn and said, "It didn't go your way."
ST. CLAIR: [Laughs] We were always in the lead. And then also I didn't realize that second stack of tires fell either, because I think it was closer to the back.
XIAO: Yeah, it was on my side, so I saw it.
ST. CLAIR: Honestly, we thought that we would have enough time to stack the tires because Enzo and Justine still had a half stack of tires left, so I thought it was us. I thought that we got it, and we fell short.
XIAO AND ST. CLAIR: [At the same time] Literally.
Derek, you got a little teary-eyed saying goodbye to Alyssa. Were you sad to leave her, or more proud that you two got your revenge on the Cookout before your exit?
XIAO: [Laughs] I actually had a whole speech for what I wanted to do. I was like shouting out every individual player, and they cut all of it out. I was about to go into like a full-on bawl, and TJ actually cut me off. I was out here giving a eulogy for my eviction. I talked about Alyssa and Angela and I was about to say Kyland, and that's when TJ cut me off. At that point, that's when I really started breaking down and started crying. And TJ was like, "You've got to go."
Shannon, you tweeted that you had some tea to spill, so what did you want to reveal?
ST. CLAIR: The tea that I really wanted to spill was about viewers thinking I was so weak in the beginning and not knowing my situation of how I was thrown in and how blindsided I was to actually be on the show vs. being an alternate and there being quite a few alternates and me thinking I was on the bottom. To speak my side of the story and just basically say I wasn't supposed to be on and this is why I cried in this episode, this was why I didn't really know what was going on until the halfway point or why people saw me as weak, I just wanted to let everybody know that if there is a next time or if I could have done it again, I would have planned completely differently and did my homework. And I know I would have made it to that final.
The Challenge: USA airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.
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