‘The Challenge: USA’: Derek & Shannon Reveal Who Tried to Save Them From Elimination

Shannon St. Clair and Derek Xiao in The Challenge: USA
Q&A
Jonne Roriz, courtesy of Paramount

A twist during the elimination in the August 10 episode of The Challenge: USA seemed to give one team the advantage… until their strategy failed them.

After Survivor‘s Desi Williams and Big Brother‘s David Alexander won the daily challenge, they sent in Love Island‘s Shannon St. Clair and Big Brother‘s Derek Xiao to face off with the losing team, Love Island‘s Justine Ndiba and Big Brother‘s Enzo Palumbo. Each team had to move stacks of tires from one platform to another, and St. Clair and Xiao while had five fewer tires after Justine misspelled a word backwards (the twist), they built theirs too high.

St. Clair and Xiao open up about that elimination and revealed what wasn’t aired.

During the daily, Shannon, you got hurt. Do you regret calling attention to that? Or would you have been sent in anyway?

St. Clair: I think because of who won the daily, we probably would’ve been sent in anyway or at least been on the chopping block, given that me and Derek weren’t in an alliance really with Desi. Big Brother, David was a wild card. I do regret announcing it, but everyone could see my sneaker got caught in the rope ladder and I was dangling, even if I didn’t say it. It wasn’t meant for everybody to hear. It was for me to tell Derek, “Hey, there’s a problem down here. That’s why I’m not making it to the top as fast as you, I’m working my way out of it right now.” I scream when I talk.

Xiao: [Laughs] We had a full conversation up there and we were both screaming. I think we would’ve had a better case for us not to go in, but at the end of the day, we probably still would’ve gone in, because I’ve talked to Desi since the game and for her, it was me all day. I was really just pitching to David the entire time, hoping that David would change his mind or stand strong and keep going down the Tyson route or throwing someone else in. But eventually I think Desi wore him down and then he flipped to her side.

Shannon St. Clair in The Challenge: USA

Jonne Roriz, courtesy of Paramount

Big Brother is where you really felt the show alliances were falling apart as quickly as they did.

Xiao: Yeah. Two episodes ago, Alyssa threw in Xavier. In these games, what I try to do — and maybe it’s not even good — is think ahead: “OK, how do I even make it to the end and what does the end look like?” Thinking about the end, I don’t want strong guys with me and the show alliances aren’t gonna work. It’s like having in Big Brother, an eight-person alliance on the first week. Obviously, this eight-person alliance isn’t gonna make it past jury because there’s not more than this number of people in the house. These show alliances aren’t gonna work, especially with this algorithm, so better to beat it to the punch than be the person that’s taken out. So let’s go ahead and break it first. You can argue it could have been a little bit too early, but really it’s just so hard to tell.

On the other hand, Shannon, Justine said that you two are close friends. Talk about going against her in elimination.

St. Clair: It was not ideal. It was like the worst case scenario, just with everything during the daily and then into the elimination. I have nothing but love for Justine and we didn’t want to go up against each other at all because our Love Island Alliance with the females, we called ourselves the Ligs, we were so loyal to each other and so strong compared to some of the other shows that had past drama and past hurt feelings versus our Love Island alliance did not. So the fact that it was a lose-lose, no matter what, one Love Island girl was gonna be sent home, it wasn’t ideal for either of us. It was really hard going up against not only one of your own, but someone that you’re close with outside of the game.

Shannon St. Clair in The Challenge: USA

Jonne Roriz, courtesy of Paramount

For the elimination, what was your thinking with the taller stacks? Or were you more focused on transferring the tires?

Xiao: When we got into elimination, we could see how tall the tires were and we knew that we had to move that exact stack over to the other side. Shannon really couldn’t even reach the top of the stack with the tires. I was thinking, if she can’t reach it here, she’s definitely not gonna be able to stack it on the other side, so because I’m a little bit taller, let me stack up so I’m putting all the tall ones and then Shannon could be stacking around the base. But then we weren’t able to build the base fast enough to support how tall the towers were and they ended up falling. So in hindsight, horrible strategy. If I could go back, we should have just done the base and then said “F it, I’ll just do all of the ones on the top,” maybe.

St. Clair: I’m 5-feet-1-inch. Derek is 6 feet. I had to have a step stool of two tires just to climb up to get the tires off the pole.

Did your injury factor into it at all?

St. Clair: I didn’t let that affect me. When my adrenaline’s going, I’m a competitor, I don’t care. I’m going to go balls to the wall with whatever I do. I also numbed it up beforehand, so I was just like, “Alright, if I can just not trip and hurt this anymore…” Running in the sand was probably the hardest part with the pulled hamstring. But when you’re on, you’re on. I’m like hurt hamstring, who? I want to prove to all these people standing up there — they all are waiting on my downfall — that I could just get through. So many times I wanted to fake fall and lie in the sand and tap out and just be like, sorry, but I’m just so proud of myself that I pushed through. I think honestly, between the injury and the height disadvantage, it was the height disadvantage, for sure. The hamstring just maybe slowed down my running a little bit, but it was everything. It was just not my elim.

Derek Xiao in The Challenge: USA

Jonne Roriz, courtesy of Paramount

Derek, you said Alyssa was the most loyal and best partner you could ask for. So you did trust her completely even with alliances falling apart?

Xiao: Oh yeah. Me and Alyssa, I never questioned that. We talked through everything, our entire games were like the same at some points. I had 100 percent trust in her and if she sent me home, I just would have been like, honestly, good game, didn’t see it coming.

What’s something that we didn’t see that you think viewers should know about?

St. Clair: Cash and Kyland offered to throw themselves in for elimination for us. It was really heroic the way that they offered to do that since I was injured and we were really good friends with Cash and Kyland. We ultimately declined, which now looking back, I kind of wish we went and let them do it, but no, I think it was too much of the guilt of if they got sent home, I would have to walk myself out. I wouldn’t be able to see my girl go home. And just the fact I was supposed to be an alternate going into all of this. I don’t think the audience knew that. So when I’m crying in the first episode and I appear like, Shannon, what are you doing in front of everybody? It was because I wasn’t even supposed to be on the main show. I didn’t watch the main show. I didn’t train for the main show. Being thrown in was just absolutely foreign to me and I didn’t watch Survivor or any other shows. It was definitely really tough on me in general, trying to figure out what’s going on and how to play the game.

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Xiao: I do kinda wish more of the social aspects of the game were shown because I do think we had a ton of fun at that house. Also the strategic side, I’m not saying for me, [but] I know a lot of people had a lot of alliances that ended up dictating how things played out and none of that was really shown. I do specifically want to shout out, I think Tyson had a pretty great alliance that was this winners’ alliance between him, Kyland, Angela. Basically, if you won a daily challenge, you got added to the winners’ alliance. I thought that was a genius strategy and they haven’t talked about that at all either. I feel like both socially and strategically, it’s been a little bit lacking.

Would you both do another season?

St. Clair: I don’t know if I would or not. I’m gonna say a solid maybe. I think the real challenge was just the living conditions, coming off of Love Island being in a beautiful villa in Hawaii to being in a warehouse in Argentina. It was just really bad living conditions: cold showers, sharing toilets, water that would just run constantly. Just that dripping, it’s like you walk into the bathroom and you’re having a bad day and it’s that one drip that just will set you off. And the food, everybody was getting sick. The challenges were fun and rewarding and I like the show as a whole now that I’ve been on it. So maybe if the living conditions were different.

Xiao: I really enjoyed this past season because of the amazing cast they had on. So I think for another season it would really come down to the cast and if it was the right mix, it’d be awesome.

The Challenge: USA, Wednesdays, 9/8c, CBS