February 20, 2013

Former Mainer tackles 'Survivor'

By Meredith Goad mgoad@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

"Survivor" is a game that can be physically taxing and psychologically ruthless.

Premiere
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Michael Snow

Monty Brinton

 "SURVIVOR" CONTESTANTS WITH TIES TO MAINE:

Zoe Zanidakis, a lobster boat captain from Monhegan, was the first Mainer on the show, appearing in 2002.

Bob Crowley, of South Portland is Maine's most famous "Survivor." He won the $1 million prize in December 2008.

Julie Berry, of Gorham, was on "Survivor" in 2004. She didn't win, but she became one of the most written-about contestants because of her romance with the show's host, Jeff Probst.

Tina Scheer, who has made a career out of lumberjack sports and is best known for her Great Maine Lumberjack Show, was a contestant in 2006. She didn't survive long. She was booted on the first episode.

Ashley Underwood, an elementary school nurse and former Miss Maine USA from Benton, made it to the final four in 2011 and fell a day short of getting a shot at the $1 million prize.

No matter what remote part of the world the "Survivor" castaways are stranded in, no matter how many players try to back-stab and sabotage them, they can always count on their mothers to have their backs.

"When it comes time they start deciding who they're going to vote off and they start talking negative about him, I know I'm going to be very uncomfortable," said Susan Snow, of Cumberland, whose son Michael is competing on CBS's "Survivor: Caramoan -- Fans vs. Favorites."

Michael Snow, 44, is a graduate of Greely High School and the University of Maine who lives in New York. He tried out for the show several times before landing a spot on "Survivor: Caramoan."

On the show, which airs at 8 p.m. Wednesdays, 20 contestants divided into two "tribes" are abandoned on separate beaches in the tropical Caramoan Islands, in the Philippines.

On the show, which airs at 8 p.m. Wednesdays, 20 contestants divided into two "tribes" are abandoned on separate beaches in the tropical Caramoan Islands, in the Philippines.

In each week's episode, the teams come together to compete in physical challenges, hoping to win immunity before the next tribal council so they won't be voted off and sent home. Snow is an event planner who has lived in Atlanta, Chicago and New York, and he still comes to Maine often to visit his parents, his brother, two sisters and their families. His island odyssey actually happened last year, but he can't reveal yet whether he was the "sole Survivor," the last player standing, who wins the $1 million prize.

In an email written from New York, Snow said the experience "was everything I'd hoped. I was looking for a challenge and an adventure. ... Boy, did I find them."

Rats jumped onto Snow at night while he was sleeping on the beach, and he was constantly afraid of seeing snakes. Those are probably the only two things he didn't prepare for.

"I thought long and hard about how I wanted to approach the game, how I would play and what my strategy would be once I hit the beach," Snow said. "Physically, I'm a runner, so I kept that up but added some swimming and yoga. I did puzzles and practiced making fire when I was back in Maine and in my sink in NYC. ... Don't tell my super."

This season pits "Survivor" fans against some favorite past players, including John Cochran, "the nerd," and Phillip Sheppard, the "crazy" one who wears pink underwear. Snow said he wasn't starstruck. He's had favorite players over the years, "but none of them jumped out of the helicopters and became my opponent."

Although Mainer Bob Crowley won "Survivor" in 2008, when he was 57, it's mostly a young person's game. Many of the contestants are in their 20s and 30s. Snow, who was the oldest member of the Gota tribe, said that while he worried about that before the game started, age turned out not to be a big factor.

That doesn't mean it wasn't difficult to "outwit, outplay, outlast," as the show's motto goes. Snow said the game turned out to be as hard as he expected, "and there were parts that were harder," he said. "I'll leave it at that."

Snow describes himself on the CBS website as "determined, enthusiastic and witty."

Susan Snow dittoed the "determined" part, saying it's why she and Michael's father, Lew, think their son will do well on the show.

"When he sets a goal, he goes for it, works hard toward it," she said. "He's very personable. In school, he worked real hard; and when he's made up his mind he's going to do something, he does it, and he does it right."

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