Many 22-year-old guys are into J-Lo, Britney or Beyonce; but University of Calgary students Mike Tobin and Nick Roper are into Shania.
The two were recently named Calgary's "Ultimate Shania Twain Fans" in a contest hosted by CMT in conjunction with Country 105 and other Canadian radio stations. They are now in the running for the national title to be announced Mon., Nov. 3 at 5 p.m. on CMT Central.
At 13, Roper got his first Shania album.
"I really enjoyed the music and ended up making Mike listen to her Woman in Me album and he ended up getting hooked," recalled Roper.
Turn on any Shania CD and Tobin and Roper can definitely be heard rattling off all of the lyrics as well. The six-minute video submitted to CMT has footage of the boys cruising around in Roper's truck blasting a Shania CD and singing along to the lyrics.
"It ended up just being a montage of us singing badly," said Tobin.
Based on their video, Tobin and Roper were chosen as the winners of the Calgary region.
"What that means is we get front-row tickets to Shania's concert in Calgary on Dec. 4, and a limo ride there," said Tobin.
The pair now moves to the finals.
"This Friday, CMT will have a show that runs through the five competitors. Then it is up to Canada to vote," explained Tobin. "There will be a chance for anyone in Canada to go online between 5 and 10 p.m. Calgary time to cmtcanada.com, and they can vote for us."
The grand prize is a trip for two to Vancouver to see Shania in concert on Dec. 7 at the finale of her 25-city North American tour. The winner gets to go backstage and meet Shania, and their experience will be a half-hour special on CMT, most likely airing in 2004.
"We really would love to have support to have a chance to meet Shania," said Tobin. "Shania is known as the queen of country music and because of the Stampede here, Calgary is kind of known as a country and western town, so it would be fitting to have two people from Calgary win and get to go see her."
Tobin and Roper are both in the Haskayne School of Business. Their video entry will be airing on CMT Central on Fri., Oct. 31 between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. and the duo is hopeful fellow U of C students will go online to vote for them that evening.
"I never knew we'd get this far and it'd be great if we could go all the way," said Tobin.
The duo, both Lord Beaverbrook graduates, have definitely earned their ultimate Shania fan status.
"We've been to every concert that she had in Calgary," said Roper. "We skipped school to go get tickets, we collected stuff. She was different, a lot of country has become more pop now, but back then she was the only one doing it."
In 1998, during the Canadian Country Music Awards in Calgary, Roper was still hooked.
"That year I was graduating from high school and I actually made a sign asking her [Shania] to be my grad date," he admits. "I got her attention, called her name and she gave the big thumbs up. Embarrassing now that I look back on it, but at the time it was fun."
In an attempt to win Shania tickets from a local radio station, the boys also made t-shirts they sported.
"They said 'Twain Spotting' on the front and had a picture of Shania on the back," recalled Tobin.
When Shania came to Southcentre Mall, Tobin and Roper have footage of their nine-hour wait to get a Shania poster autographed.
"The most valuable memorabilia is the poster I got signed when we met her at the mall in 1997," said Tobin. "It's funny looking back at the efforts we went through to get that. Right now, I think about it and it blows my mind."
Nevertheless, Tobin said he would still wait the nine hours even now.
"Yeah, for sure--she's an even bigger star now."