As you know, I like to make predictions before I watch the episode.  After speaking with Brooke Van Paris early this morning, I find myself at a loss.  She described her cast as eight jacked, over six-feet tall women.  Indeed, an intimidating group.  But behind the scenes, these girls became fast friends.  Maybe a bit too friendly.  The producers had to break them up and remind them to wipe the smiles.  When it was showtime, however, Brooke was all business.  Team BEASTMODEBARBIE was ready to unleash hell at the Broken Skull Ranch.

Her brilliant eyes went dark, and her flashing smile turned to a clenched jaw.  But I get ahead of myself.  What is it that got her and this impressive lineup of ladies to this show?  Brooke is a humble self-promoter, an introvert/extrovert.  When it comes to helping others by sharing her life story and experience, the otherwise shy Brooke comes right out.  She uses quotes efficiently to communicate those transformations.  “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.”  “Your testimony could be the key that unlocks someone else’s prison.”  And when she’s done, she expects nothing in return.

So how did that play out in tonight’s episode?  Was it Barbie or bust?  Returning champ Cassidy Watton set the tone with a scorching 7:52 run.  She ran the Skullbuster like a beast.

The first obstacle was the Drain.  Instead of a canal, this is just an open pool.  More room to maneuver.  I like the close quarters of the canal from last season.  It forces contact.  The first two girls were done in seconds with Cat taking the first round.  Nikki did not look away from the bell for her entire battle.  She said on Facebook today that the battle was much longer than what was shown on TV.  Exhaustion set in and unfortunately, Nikki got sixed by Stephanie.  Goose and Stephanie 2 took the blocks next.  Goose pushed off and took the bell quickly.  Finally, Brooke and Nika were up.  I suspected that a water polo champ might best the bodybuilder.  And she did in mere seconds using excellent bodyweight shifting technique.

Round 2 was Death Grip.  This is the Bucket Brigade on steroids.  Stephanie 1 and Goose went first.  Goose was way ahead at the first drop.  Stephanie 1 was left standing at the top.  She trained for this, but as she said, not with enough weight.  That’s a lesson I see this whole season in OCR at every venue.  The winners are overtraining.  I saw it in Cassidy’s run with the log.  Huge strides and rapid footfalls were no problems despite the extra unwieldy weight on her shoulder.  The winners are training with up to triple the weight so that the competition weight feels like a fly.

For the last Death Grip challenge, one opponent was left standing on the top.  Cat took the win solo.

So the two animals, Cat and Goose, went to the final round.  Beasts, as Brooke said.  Barbies?  Not on this show.  But as many of you know, after the show, the girls who took the “walk of shame” down the road cleaned up, went into Barbie mode, and headed to Santa Monica to enjoy a newfound friendship at Muscle Beach.

The Octagon moved ahead for Goose, but Cat struggled to get it going.  Once the momentum kicked in, it was just a matter of energy conservation needed for the Pit.  Cat took her 40 seconds and a few deep breaths.  Then the clash of the beasts was on.  Goose was on top and dropped the Cat into the dirt.

Now it was just Goose and the Skullbuster with a very tough time of 7:52 to beat.  Her downhill log carry was clean and fast in 1:52.  Cassidy’s time here was well over two minutes, so things looked good so far.  No problem on the swing and cargo net.  She took the frame down easily and moved onto the Turnstyle.  Steve kept encouraging her to speed up, drive, and push.  Did he know she might need some extra lead?  Although winded, she made it through the Landing Pads quickly.  But the Rainmaker with the cold water I thought might do her in.  Indeed, she slowed down as she then entered more cold water and two climbs on Burnout.  I could see that the mental game was kicking in at this point.  Good thing as she now faced Heartbreak Hill.  She took it on all fours.  Her rugby and CrossFit training got her to the top.  She skidded down, and all she had left was Rib Cage and the Ropeburn.

Goose had no problem with the heavy lifts.  Cassidy looked worried.  Now did she use her feet to get to the top of the rope?  Yes indeed.  She beat the Skullbuster mean and clean.  I suspected that her time was very close.  Cassidy hovered close by.  Goose clocked in at 9:42.  That’s television for you.  Her run looked a lot faster than that.

But her day in the sun was fantastic.  All the women did an outstanding job.  They formed bonds that few of us know.  Next stop, we’ll see Brooke and maybe others in two weeks at the OCRWC representing Team USA.