The opening of Colorado's Keystone Resort on October 28 brought with it more than the excitement typically associated with the beginning of a new season. Though the resort is celebrating its 30th birthday, this season's commotion results more from five Coloradans stranded in a gondola suspended 30 feet above the base of Keystone's Argentine Lift. The five are competing in what is being billed as The Masters' Survivor Series II.
DJs Lewis & Floorwax, known to listeners as "The Masters" from Denver's "The Fox" radio station (KRFX) personally selected the contestants who will each spend up to a month in the 16-square-foot gondola, getting only five 15-minute breaks a day. The competitors will vote one of their own out of the gondola every Friday during The Masters' morning drive show, with the sole survivor taking home a $20,000 winner's check.
Ryan, 22, a local snowboarder, saved up enough of his 15-minute breaks to take a ride up the chairlift and get first tracks on opening day. Other contestants include: Tanelle, a 26-year-old stripper from Denver; Kim, 23, "the girl next door" who recently dropped out of college and moved back to Colorado after breaking up with her boyfriend; Rex, a 49-year-old carpenter; and Jamie, 30, a native of Durango who DJs, manages tours, and has a truck driving license.
This contest is an obvious takeoff on CBS's successful Survivor television series, in which winner Richard Hatch received a $1 million prize. Not only was the bigger cash prize for the TV Survivors more of an incentive, but the five inhabitants of the gondola all consider their predicament to be far more trying than being stranded on a deserted island. "It's not even close," says Jamie. "We may get chili and beer from 7-Eleven, but they at least got to spread out and walk around a little bit."
Tanelle agrees: "Our situation is definitely harder than theirs. They got to travel all over the island, while we have to sit here and keep reminding ourselves to move so we don't get bedsores from sitting for so long."
Jamie describes his new digs as "cramped as hell," but the contestants have kept busy smoking cigarettes, playing cards, and reading. "LOTS of reading," Jamie says.
Rex was the first to be voted out after being what Kim called "a little less than diplomatic" and because he reportedly took up the most space in the gondola. Tanelle was the next to go, getting the boot last week after a narrow vote. It's now down to Ryan, Kim, and Jamie, with another vote scheduled for Friday, November 10.
Things are also getting exciting as snow and temperatures in the low teens have crept into the area. Voting strategies may also be coming into play as rumors of a "male alliance" abound.
Stay tuned to skiingmag.com for Survivor updates. Check out the related links (above right) for SKIING's definitive interview with the Survivors.