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Interview With Chad Crittenden of Survivor: Vanuatu

by LauraBelle

RS: It’s great that you joined Survivor as a role model for others with disabilities. How do you feel about the comments from others wanting to vote you out early, fearing a sympathy vote if you made it to Final Two?

Chad: The only person that had felt that there would be a sympathy vote – or at least the only one with the naiveté or nerve to say so – was John K. I did know from the beginning as I planned my strategy that I would probably have very little chance of going to the final 3 or 4 without winning a string of individual immunities. Not because of sympathy, but because I knew I’d play the game well and with integrity. If I’d have made it that far, I also would have won immunities with my “disadvantage” and that may have given me greater respect rather than sympathy. For these reasons it would have been hard for anyone to bring me with them to the final few as I’d have been hard for the jury not to pick.

RS: What do you feel is tougher – being a contestant on Survivor, teaching elementary school, running a triathlon nine months after the loss of your leg or being a full-time dad?

Chad: Each of the things you’ve mentioned take guts, commitment and especially endurance! Teaching elementary school is very tough the first couple years but it becomes much easier and funner as you get better. The triathlon was great, until the run … but that was only a few miles. Full-time dad was tough at first as well, but now I have my routine down, it is pure joy! I would have to say Survivor was the toughest. The days were long and you really did suffer. Chris and I kept a calender, and first thing in the morning, he’d mark off the day we were on – just wishing the days away! It really is that bad when you’re there – basically lacking food, water, sleep and warmth.

RS: How bad were the living conditions in Vanuatu, for you to actually argue over who slept closer to the fire?

Chad: I know lots of us have said it – but the freezing cold nights really take a toll on you. Us guys didn’t have blankets until the merge. That was very tough, and the little things like your sleeping position around the fire was really big. It meant getting at least some sleep compared to interrupted sleeplessness.

The argument with Bubba had to do with a prime sleeping spot next to the fire which was sloped and was on the windward side of the fire pit. Other positions around the fire meant you were rolling down hill with only a bit of your body exposed to the fire or you were in the spot where smoke wafted in your face throughout the night. Being in “First Class” as we called it, meant that you were at an angle where the blood wasn’t flowing to your head, your whole body was parallel to the fire, and there was NO smoke. One could actually sleep well. So YES the conditions were THAT bad!

RS: Is there a comparison you can make to the Kava to something the rest of us may have drank at some point – both in taste and effect? How much of it did you end up drinking?

Chad: The Kava was the most hideous taste you can imagine. The only way I can describe it would be muddy water mixed with Novacane. It literally made you sick as you chugged it down – which you HAD to do. The effect was strange. You feel light headed, but not confused or incapacitated mentally. Your body, however is a mess. Muscle coordination is all messed up, and I had a hard time walking. In that sense (balance and coordination-wise) it is like being very drunk.

Chris and I drank one of those bowls (a coconut bowl – about 12 oz) with the women for TV purposes only. The Chiefs wouldn’t normally do that as part of their culture. I talked about this on the CBS website – so its okay. Chris and I were escorted back to the Chief’s area
after drinking Kava with the women, as they went to help prepare the feast. With no cameras or audio, the Chief’s son offered us more Kava, but this time it was some extraordinarily potent stuff. We couldn’t turn down his offer (out of politeness – believe me). We drank 2 more big bowls of that stuff on a peanut-sized empty stomach. Needless to say, at a mere 145 pounds at that point, I was tossed.

RS: Why did you not sunbathe nude alongside Julie and Sarge?

Chad: Ha! I was really surprised Sarge did that! When in Rome … I guess. I got enough flak for just being there next to Julie when she took her Bikini off and her backside was showing. Of COURSE I wasn’t sneaking little peaks now and then … C’mon! Plus my white bum may have overexposed the cameras.

RS: How do you think the outcome of the game could have changed, had Julie been voted out instead of John, or Ami voted out instead of Rory?

Chad: At those points in the game, us guys at the Lopevi tribe were not thinking down gender lines. Julie swears to me even now, that her mind wasn’t made up to stay with the women till the actual merge, and I know Twila was with us for sure until her mind was changed as the women formed their block. John K. would have gone with the women in a blink as he really hated the rest of Lopevi which had
alienated him and the other guys we voted off. I would have liked if Ami went instead of Rory though – as I would probably have lasted a bit longer.

RS: What was your honest perception watching the show, seeing the women sneak the chicken wings in, and only offering the men the bones to gnaw on?

Chad: At the time – it would have been a HUGE deal. We would have not only felt betrayed because we missed out on food, but it was a selfish thing for them to have done. However, as I watched I was a bit surprised but laughing. It was 2 chicken wings each – I mean really – how much meat IS that? After the women ate their wings, they devoured the bones with as much wolf-like slobbery as us men!

RS: You stated at the reunion show you felt Chris was perhaps the best Survivor player ever, can you tell us why you feel this way?

Chad: Chris didn’t seem to have what it took at first when he blew that balance beam challenge. But as the game went on, he proved to be a hard worker, a well-perceived diplomat, and a very tough physical competitor. His greatest strength though was his ability to manipulate the situations he was in to his advantage. It was incredible to me watching the show on TV how he totally convinced people of things or gained their total trust, just to do with he wanted with it.

What really sealed it for me though, is at the very end when he convinced Twila that at the final Tribal, when the Jury was commenting and asking questions to base their decision on, how he “wasn’t gonna hold back” and that he was going to let them know how he felt (implying that he was going to be totally unapologetic). Twila believes him, doesn’t take any crap from them, and makes no apologies, thus sealing her fate. Chris turns right around, makes apologies, kisses butt and wins votes. Twila was absolutely furious over that and still won’t talk to Chris to this day. As a student of the game, I’d say Chris had the best all-around game ever.

Special thanks to SF Prosthetics

also SEE: Stumps R Us at:
www.stumps.org
and …
The Sarcoma Alliance at:
www.sarcomaalliance.com

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