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Jason Olson, Deseret News
Members of the blue team cheer upon winning one of the challenges during "Survivor: Springville" at Jolley's Ranch in Hobble Creek Canyon on Saturday.

SPRINGVILLE — First, there was "Survivor." Then there were "Survivor: Africa," "Survivor: Thailand," "Survivor: Amazon," "Survivor Micronesia" and "Survivor: China."

Now, there's "Survivor: Springville."

The contest didn't make prime-time television, but Springville's version of the hit CBS television challenge was almost, said Todd Herzog, winner of "Survivor: China," as competitive as the real deal.

"These people are the craziest people I've seen," said Herzog, who played Jeff Probst's part as host in the city-sponsored game. "I expected it to be like Sunday school with people snapping, clapping and just being excited to be alive. But these people are like, 'Game on."'

The contestants — local community members — spent three days testing their wits and strength at various Springville venues including the city swimming pool and Jolley's Ranch in Hobble Creek Canyon.

Herzog, who lives in Pleasant Grove, drew from his experience as an eight-year "Survivor" fan to design the games for the city-sponsored event. It took him "four trips a day to Wal-mart for a week" to get everything prepared, he said.

Five of Herzog's former castmates, Courtney Yates, Jaime Dugan, Michael "Frosti" Zernow and Erik Huffman, made the trip to Utah to help with "Survivor: Springville."

"A lot of the challenges are stuff we played on 'Survivor: China,"' Herzog said. "But, of course, we had to modify them a bit."

Instead of fighting over bags of mud in a swamp, for example, contestants attempted to steal bricks and water jugs from one another in the Springville swimming pool.

"It was like wrestling in the water," said Scott Wardle, 29, a Springville city park employee who participated in "Survivor: Springville." "It was a full-on fight, with kicking and shoving and everything."

Wardle was so aggressive he ended up with a bloody chest.

"I latched onto that brick and I told myself, 'Nobody is going to take this away from me,"' he said.

It was a little more intense than some contestants had bargained for.

"It's turned out to be pretty heavy contact — and we're playing with women," said Kevin Bodily, 42, who represented Quality RV at the competition. "It's pretty hard to be chivalrous and take a girl out."

During another challenge, contestants had to balance barefoot on sharp unsteady rocks. This was patterned after the classic "Survivor" endurance challenge, said Courtney Yates, who was the runner-up on "Survivor: China."

"It's a mind-over-matter thing," said Yates, who did her own balancing on an oil barrel on the show. "It's about how long you can make yourself do something before you just give up."

"Survivor: Springville," like the television series, was designed to test contestants mentally as well as physically. And, like the television series, contestants started getting sneaky, making alliances and testing Herzog's limits.

"It's not about playing the game by the rules," said contestant Roark Fisher, 41. "It's about finding a loophole in the rules to win the game."


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