It was the moment when we all saw for the first time that the show of Survivor was in fact REAL and that the elements the cataways were dropped into were in fact dangerous. Of course I am referring to the Survivor Austrlia accident that caused contestant Michael Skupin to be removed from the game after a horrifying face plant into a fire that caused severe burns to both his hands. It was disturbing and at the same time riveting television and since Survivor was only in its second season, many believe this even catapulted the show to true icon status due to the drama that unfolded that day.
The setting of the accident centered on a normal day in camp when Skupin was trying to do the mundane but necessary task of keeping the fire going in order to cook the day's rice meal. Skupin proceeds to bend over the fire to blow on it when a plume of smoke came into his face and caused him to pass out into the fire. Using his hands to brace the fall, Skupin immediately came to and let out a blood curdling yell. He immedinately ran into the water where the damage was first realized: major burns to both hands with the skin peeling off. A medivac was immediately flown in and Skupin became the first injured evacuee in Survivor history. To this day, no injury was as frightening with the possible exeption of Russell Swan in S19.
The evacuation had a trmendous impact on the game as the Kucha tribe at that point had the Ogakor group at their mercy with being up in numbers by a count of 6-5. One more win in the immunity challenge would have allowed Kucha to go into ther merge with the advantage and thus pick off Colby, Tina and company one by one. With Mike's departure the field was even and the loose lips of Kimmi Kappenberg served to destroy her old tribe when Jeff Varner was ousted at the merge, thus giving the Ogakor's the advantage they needed to get the aformentioned Colby and eventual champion Tina to the end of the game. No doubt in my mind Kucha would have won that challenge if Mike didnt get hurt as Ogakor had no confidence and was a team full of bickering. In fact it wouldnt be a stretch to say that Skupin stood a great chance of getting to the end and winning the whole thing. His highlight of course was his ability to hold the 200 pounds of water on his shoulders in the strength challenge versus the much younger Colby and he would have won that one too had his pole not broken as the cowboy was shaking from the weight and seemed seconds away from falling in the water.
So with all that took place there, many have wondered what ever happend to Mike and will he ever come back to Survivor??? I did a little digging on this topic and discovered that Michael Skupin has been quite busy since his appearance on Survivor and it appears that he would have little time to do the show again due to his work. Specifically speaking, Skupin has become a born again Christian and has made it his lifes work to help other in need. He created his own web site http://www.mikeskupin.com/ and goes around the country giving lectures and doing fundraisers. With his motto being "Discover Your Inner Strength", Skupin has taken his message all the way to the White House as he has met with former President George W Bush and First Lady Laura Bush.
All in all, it appears that Michael Skupin has put every ounce of himself into his new venture and he should be applauded for it. The link between his injury and what he is now doing with his life is very coincidental (and Skupin wasnt shown to be religious in Australia) so one could assume his brush with his health made him look inward for strength which is where the motto came from. Either way this is a nice ending to a great player's experience on Survivor and I honestly hope we do see him again soon.
What did you all think of Michael Skupin? How good in your opinion would he have done if he didnt get injured?