April 12, 2013

For Mainer, run on 'Survivor' was thrill of a lifetime

Contestant Michael Snow, who was eliminated in this week's episode, still counts himself lucky for the experience – even the shipworms.

By Ray Routhier rrouthier@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Reflecting on his days as a castaway on "Survivor," Michael Snow said Thursday that he feels very lucky to have had the opportunity to eat shipworms -- bivalve molluscs that are known for boring through wooden hulls of ships.

"They were these big slimy, gloppy masses, like a gray turd with a shell," said Snow, 44, a native of Cumberland. "But for me, the whole experience lived up to my expectations 100 percent. As a fan of the show, I was so pumped up to be on it, and then it happened. I'll never get a chance like that again."

Some people would say that's good since over the past few months Snow was seen on episodes of the CBS reality show brushing off snakes, eating live beetles and other creepy crawlies, sleeping in a rough-hewn hut during rainstorms and dealing with the bald-faced lying that goes on when 20 people vie for the show's $1 million prize.

But Snow, speaking from New York City on Thursday, said he saw the whole experience as a big adventure and a chance to do something he had fantasized about for years.

"Wow, who gets to do what I did?" he said.

Snow lasted 25 days on the isolated beaches of the Caramoan Islands in the Philippines, longer than nine other players. He was voted off by his fellow castaways during Wednesday night's episode. The current season of "Survivor" was filmed last year and began airing in February.

Snow, a corporate training planner who lives in New York City, watched the episodes each week as his friends and family watched in Maine. He swears he told no one how he fared or when he would be voted off.

"I enjoyed watching it with friends, and I could hear my family screaming all the way from Maine," he said.

Snow is a graduate of Greely High School and the University of Maine and comes to Maine frequently to visit his family.

He said that once he was accepted as a contestant on "Survivor," he began preparing physically and mentally.

Snow, a runner, stepped up his running to work on his endurance. He took yoga to increase his flexibility and overall wellness. He went swimming more often, he stopped drinking coffee and he practiced building fires in his apartment's kitchen sink.

"I did brain teasers too, and I just started to try to prepare myself for the mental part of the game, so I could stay focused on playing the game the whole time I was there," said Snow.

Playing the game is mostly about lying and scheming to get in good with some folks -- or to make other folks look bad. In each episode, teams of castaways come together to compete in physical challenges, hoping to win immunity so they can't be voted off and sent home. But somebody is voted off each week, so most of the game is about trying to stay in it.

Snow wasn't seen doing all that much scheming and lying on camera, but he said that doesn't mean he didn't do any. In early episodes, he schemed with a fellow castaway named Matt Bischoff. He said he purposely laid back and let Bischoff be seen as the schemer, so others wouldn't target Snow.

Sure enough, the others targeted Bischoff, voting him off well before they voted off Snow.

"My scheming was kind of subtle, basically letting Matt make the big moves," said Snow. "I think you didn't see much of it because of how far I got. If I had gotten further I think the (producers) would have shown more of how I played the game."

Snow said he got very friendly with Bischoff, who is from Ohio, and would like to stay in touch with him. He said he also will probably stay in touch with Corinne Kaplan.

Kaplan was on a team of players who had been on past "Survivor" shows, known as the favorites, while Snow was on a team of fans. Even though they were on opposite teams, Kaplan liked Snow right away and was seen trying persuade people not to vote him off.

As for as who might win "Survivor" this season? Well, Snow said people shouldn't discount Phillip Sheppard, who behaves like a CIA agent and gives his allies code names like "Tenacity" or "Serenity." He comes off like he's crazy, but he's not, Snow said.

"He's just really playing the game and he knows what he's doing," said Snow. "He's not crazy, but he's nuts, if that makes any sense."

In the real world, it wouldn't. But on the unreal reality TV world of "Survivor," it does.

Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

rrouthier@pressherald.com

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