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September 30, 2006

Other Finishers

Just got the scoresheet...here's the other placings not announced on stage..
11th is Vince Taylor
12th is Branch Warren
13th is Johnnie Jackson
14th is Darrem Charles
15th is Troy Alves

JAY CUTLER IS MR OLYMPIA!!!

We have a new champ, ladies and gentlemen. Jay Cutler, after numerous second-place finishes, has knocked out Ronnie Coleman. It's pandemonium here at the Orleans Arena. This is an amazing bodybuilding moment. I've got goosebumps.

Now Cutler is waving to the crowd, he has the stage to himself. The man has finally achieved his dream. Coleman, who is an exceptional, worthy champion, and is still tied with Lee Haney for winningest Mr. O ever, is devastated.

Jay is speaking to the crowd. "This is a day no one thought they'd see. I broke the trend, you know. They said the champ can't be taken out. Well you know what? The new champ's in town. And the Sandow is staying in Las Vegas. And I get to keep my hair."

Will you be back? "Of course. I just want to thank Number 1 all the fans. Joe Weider and Ben to give me the opportunity to do all this. There's a lot of talk about other competitive organizations ... but the IFBB is the place. This is where you win Mr. Olympia."

Mr. O Top Six!

Guys go off the stage for some water ...

I know, I know -- it's getting crazy, we want to know who wins this thing! A couple more minutes. In the meantime, Lee Haney has taken the stage.

"Ronnie's out to break the record, I'm here to cheer him on, but he has his hands full," Haney said.

Shawn Ray was just handed the results. Whatever is to happen, is done ... it's all over but the announcing.

Haney is going to win the Flex Vanguard Award tonight ... he had some very nice words to say. Now he's being asked who he thinks has won tonight: "I am going to leave that up to the judges."

6th place: $30,000 Gustavo Badell
5th place: $38,000 Melvin Anthony
4th place: $48,000 Dexter Jackson
3rd place: $60,000 Victor Martinez -- he made his goal of the top three.

And the winner of the 2006 Mr. Olympia is Jay Cutler. OH MY GOD!

Men's Top 10

We're getting close to posedown time for the men. First, they will receive their participation medals from Ben Weider.

Ronnie's getting his medal now, so we're about to move on to the top 10 announcement.

Victor Martinez, Melvin Anthony, Gustavo Badell, Gunter Schlierkamp, Toney Freeman, Dexter Jackson, Dennis James, Jay Cutler, Markus Ruhl, and Ronnie Coleman are in the top 10. The judges went for the big guys in the O once again for the most part.

10th place: $14,000, Gunter Schlierkamp
9th place: $16,000 Dennis James
8th place: $17,000 Markus Ruhl
7th place: $18,000 Toney Freeman

The top six take center stage -- Victor, Melvin, Gustavo, Dexter, Ronnie and Jay. Doing quarter turns. Ronnie chant erupts, crowd is getting restless. Of course, chant started by his family...

Is it Jay? Is it Ronnie? The posedown begins, the scores are being tallied. History is about to be made, one way or another. The excitement is palpable. It's a crazy scene.

Jim Manion is on his way backstage with the scores.

Crowd is on it's feet. Phil Heath was actually one of the first to get up and cheer.

Here we go:

Figure On Stage

The Figure competitors are out in their two-piece suits, receiving their participation medals. Shawn Ray just slipped up and called Chastity Slone "Christy," but I have to say, overall the team of Bob Cicherillo and Shawn have done a very impressive job with the hosting duties. Very on the ball and professional.

Now they're announcing the top six ...

Sixth place, $2,000, Gina Aliotti.
Fifth place, $3,500, Mary Elizabeth Lado.
Fourth place, $4,500, Christine Pomponio-Pate
Third place, $8,000, Monica Brant-Peckham. Deserved better.
Second place, $10,000, Amber Littlejohn.
First place, $20,000, Jenny Lynn.

Fans I'm sure would have loved to see Monica win, but Jenny is a deserving champ. Congratulations to her for a good win. Nice way to bounce back after being unable to defend her Fitness International crown earlier this year, when she came down with an illness the week of the show and had to pull out.

Olympia Men are On Stage

The 16-22 men coming out to do a quick minute on stage; only top 15 will continue on to compete in the final two rounds. In no particular order: Paco Bautista, Dennis Wolf, Rodney St. Cloud, Ronny Rockel, Mustafa Mohammad, David Henry (which is insane, this guy is a top 15 physique; huge oversight), and Bill Wilmore. Wilmore has a great physique, he probably deserved a little better, but the lineup is loaded.

Now, the top 15 come on for their individual posing routines.

Victor Martinez is up first. Comes out to some rock music, then with a voiceover tribute to his mom, who recently passed away, he segues into a slow posing routine. Now into hip hop; guys got an amazing physique, and Ronnie is right -- while this likely isn't his night, Victor is a guy who probably has a Sandow in his future. He has the symmetrical attributes of the smaller guys, coupled with mass to help him match up with the big guys. A potent combo, and extremely rare.

Next up, Troy Alves, posing to a ballad. Troy looked good for this show. The Phoenix Arizona resident is better than his third-place condition at this year's Ironman, the result that earned him his qualification. It's a basic routine -- he's making shur to hit his poses hard, and is mixing in some of his usual classical poses. Getting some good reaction from the crowd, which is cool -- the guy deserves some love.

Now, nine pounds heavier than at the Arnold (247 pounds), Melvin Anthony takes the stage. Starting with an R&B ballad, and his smooth-as-silk posing. Anthony knows how to move, that's for damn sure. Based on yesterday's callouts, he's probably in the hunt for a top-six spot. Earlier this year, Melvin made the Flex top 20 most aesthetic physiques of all time, and there's nothing he's showing her to disappoint in that regard. Now he's into his dance/pop-and-lock, crowd's getting into it. It's nice to see a guy who really puts some thought into his posing routine -- it's something that can really take bodybuilding to the next level, if all the competitors took such care.

Gustavo Badell marches out to center stage. The third place finisher of the past two years, his routine contains a voice-over talking about the guys he's beaten in the last two Challenge Rounds. Dexter, Ronnie, Jay... now a voiceover comes on to say, "Whoa, Gustavo, there is no challenge round this year." Followed by, "Bodybuilding is a challenge." He's having fun up there -- this year is likely going to be a disappointing result for him, but champs are built on how they respond to adversity. He's compared exceptionally well to the top guys in the sport, and even if he doesn't get top three this year, he's still a top contender in this sport. He talked about bodybuilding being a challenge, his challenge will be bouncing back next year. He has a physique that can do it, when he's on.

Johnnie Jackson is up next. Winner of this year's Montreal Pro, his achilles heel is his legs, but with improvements there he can be a top six contender in the coming years. His chest is awesome, which, strangely, is a rarity in the pro ranks these days.

Gunter Schlierkamp is next. One of the most popular athletes at the expo today, he got a big rise from the crowd here. Whether or not he's ever able to achieve that now mythic 2002 form again, he's still a class-A representative of the sport. His music is classical, with a "Thor" voiceover. Fitting for the mighty German.

The X Man, Toney Freeman, comes out with the first props. A battle axe and a black hood. Now segues into DMX, "X Gonna Give it To Ya." Then another DMX tune. The routine doesn't quite meld together, but then again, can't go wrong with hardcore hip hop and some attitude. Hard rock, hip hop rap -- that's the music of bodybuilding. And, of course, his physique, while not without some weaknesses, looks pretty damn good.

Dexter Jackson now on stage. Goes with a ballad. There were plenty of supporters of Dexter around the expo today in the conversations about the show -- he was one of a handful of guys with the potential to win this show. He should have a top-four spot locked down, but the Blade may not have been sharp enough to pull it off.

Branch Warren now up. His legs are freakin' huge from the front, back, side .. from space. Wow. Guys thick, and picked the perfect music to go with his type of freaky physique: Metal. He seems to be getting more comfortable with this round; in the past, he's been more awkward in the free pose, but while he's no Melvin Anthony, he's confident and energetic. Nice job.

Darrem Charles coming out. You expect him to give Melvin a run for the unofficial award of "Best Routine." He's starting with a ballad (not a fan of the slow music for bodybuilding routines, as it's overdone, but Darrem's one of the few guys who can pull it off). About 2/3's through and he's stuck with the same song throughout; The song itself builds up, so the energy level of his performance is rising throughout. Little different than he's done in the past. Good, but Melvin still has the top spot thus far for posing on this night.

Dennis James comes out, looking insanely wide as he enters. He struggles with waist issues, it's no secret, but his upper body and thighs are incredible. The guy's lat spread stretches to each end of the stage. HIs most muscular is arguably the best in the pro ranks.

Jay's up. It's on -- he absolutely needs to come out here with confidence and attitude and try to take this thing. He needs the killer instinct he's lacked in this round in the past. Here we go. Voiceover to start, comparing his body to a car. Crowd is reacting well thus far. Now some classic music ... not a great pick, but hopefully he transitions into a stronger music choice...back to the car ... good, now some heavier music. Hitting poses, hasn't lost really anything from last night conditionwise, at least it appears. Throwing in a lot of poses. Now playing to each side of the auditorium with poses. Much better than in 2001, when he went into the night show with a lead and lost it at night when he came out lacking energy and Ronnie came out with all guns blazing. Let's see Ronnie's response.

But meantime, we have Markus Ruhl, who is back to doing what he does best -- being absolutely huge. I can't imagine how Markus lost last week's Santa Susannah to Paco Bautista. Nothing against Paco, who's a good bodybuilder, but Markus is ... well, Markus. Ahhh, German metal -- the place rocks when Ruhl takes the stage.

Vince Taylor. The ageless one, 50 years old. This is a cool moment. Another guy who can make a ballad work, and that's what he starts with, R&B style. He looks great, his classic physique stll pretty intact from his prime. Now his voiceover goes into the "ultimate transformer." No one does the transformer/terminator/robot schtick as well as Taylor ... now into hip hop, Young Joc. Nice mix of styles, a routine with a little bit of everything.

Now, the moment everyone's been waiting for -- Ronnie Coleman. He has an announcer come out for him, the world-famous boxing announcer, Bruce Buffer. Ronnie comes down through the crowd from the back, wearing a boxing robe. Wow, this is awesome. Ronnie pulls a rabbit out of his hat. Holy crap. He hasn't even taken the stage yet officially, and this is his best posing routine ever. Inventive.

Now he's out dressed like freakin' Moses, with two tablets. Huge beard. Voiceover. "Thou shalt not cheat on their diet, complain about ther placings...he created his masterpiece, Ronnie Coleman." Ronnie strips the robe off and starts dancing and raising the roof. I can't believe I'm seeing this.

Ronnie is a rock star. This is what you want out of a Mr. Olympia. What a show, he's come so far in his posing round abilities. This thing is going down in history as one of the best posing routines ever.

Now we are going into the participation medal ceremony.

Figure Olympia Out First

The first Figure competitor, Michelle Adams, has just taken the stage; the athletes are coming out in their one-piece suits.

Monica Brant-Peckham is out, looking amazing. She should be in the hunt for this title -- it may come down between her and Jenny Lynn. Will Monica finally break through and earn the top Figure title she's long deserved?

After all the girls have taken the stage in their one-piece, the guys should be coming out for their individual free posing routines. With Jay Cutler and Ronnie Coleman reportedly neck-and-neck, they'll need to take the stage with a lot of energy. The question is, have either lost some condition, or on the other hand, made improvements to swing scores of judges their way?

Meanwhile, almost had a suit malfunction on stage...the Janet Jackson moment was averted, however. She's gone backstage to fix her outfit, and now has retaken the stage....

Now the girls are doing quarter turns.
Callouts are Monica Brant, Mary Lado, Amber Littlejohn, Jenny Lynn, and Christine Pomponio-Pate.That's a better callout than Mary Lado received yesterday in prejudging. Perhaps she will make the top five, something that didn't look likely yesterday purely based on callouts.

Second callout is Gina Aliotti, Gina Camacho, Jennifer Searles, Amanda Savell, and Latisha Wilder.

Third, Michelle Adams, Inga Neveraukaite, Valerie Waugaman, Nina Luchka, and Jessica Paxson-Putnam.

Monica, Jenny and Amber come out for a final callout. Chances are, this is the top three, but what order is still a mystery. Any one of them could win without it being a shock.

Ronnie Sighting

FLEX has been in the Orleans Arena for the past few hours getting prepared for tonight's finals. Saw something a bit perplexing - Ronnie Coleman, practicing his stage entrance about two hours before tonight's kickoff. Had some of us wondering why he wasn't in his room resting up. You can bet Jay Cutler spent the last few hours reserving his energy for kickoff.

Mr. Olympia Finals: Live

We're live from the Orleans Arena, moments before the Mr. Olympia Finals are set to begin. At the moment, Joe and Ben Weider have just taken the stage to speak to the crowd.

Ben Weider: "This contest tonight is the contest you will remember for the rest of your life. It will be the greatest. The specialty of this evening besides this great event, is that we all know Arnold won the Olympia seven times. Lee Haney and Ron Coleman won 8 times. So tonight if Ronnie wins he will be the champion of champions."

He also thanked Jim Manion, chair of the IFBB Professional League, Rafael Santonja, Executive Assistant of the IFBB and head of the European Bodybuilding Federation, Peter McGough, EIC of FMuscle & Fitness, M&F Hers and Flex, and Robin Chang, promoter of the Olympia.

Haney here

Lee Haney, eight-time Mr. O, whose record number of Olympia wins may be in jeopardy, has made it to the booth.
According to Vic Richards, "the last true Mr. Olympia is Lee Haney. He was the last Mr. Olympia with a trim waist and long sweeping lats down to that waist. Now we have guys who look like they're pregnant or have a big beer belly. That's not bodybuilding. Lee Haney is bodybuilding."

Book Signing Going Great

Joe and Ben Weider are still signing copies of their autobiography. They should certainly be happy with the reception. The Master Blaster proves that all his hard work has been worth it. They've seen a solid line of book buyers for more than two hours.

Mustafa Mohammed now checking out Kevin Horton's photos from prejudging. A back injury five weeks ago hampered his training for the Olympia, but he's feeling better and doing the Austrian Grand Prix next week.\

Kris Dim's got 100% focus on winning the Ironman in 2007, followed by Sacramento. He doen't want to look the same, weighing 212-215 ripped.

Look for Stan McQuay to be fighting for the light-heavy title at the Nationals in Miami. Effervescent Jerome Ferguson will be rockin' in Miami as well.

Mark Dugdale and Phil Heath

Dugdale and Heath now at the Weider booth. Looks like people are having a great time at the expo. UFC exhibition just started and Hardbody Fittest Model Search begins in a few minutes.

Who's your choice?

Go to the galleries to see almost 800 photos from last night's prejudging. The final placings tonight are bound to be controversial, so check out the evidence and let us know what you think on the FLEX forums.

From here in the Olympia Expo, opinions are flying fast and furious on just who's winning this show. It is far from clear-cut, with passionate arguments on behalf of Jay Cutler and Ronnie Coleman. Also interesting, the number of people who are saying Victor Martinez should get the victory.

But the most likely scenario is this is coming down between Jay and Ronnie, with a battle as epic as their 2001 showdown -- a showdown where Cutler went into the night show with a slight lead, only to fall behind in the final two rounds.

We have Phil Heath and Mark Dugdale at the booth, going through the comparison shots of Jay and Ronnie, pose for pose.

First pose, back double biceps, both for Jay.

Rear lat spread, both for Jay.

Side triceps, both for Jay.

Most muscular, both guys pick Jay.

That's an interesting near-sweep for the big man, Cutler. Are the judges seeing it the same way? We're hours away from finding out.

Meanwhile, the lines here at the booth are insane. I'm looking out over a line for Gunter that stretches a long way down the expo hall. On the other side of the booth, Ben and Joe Weider are signing their new book Brothers of Iron and that line stretches down the opposite end of the hall. The place is a madhouse.

Photographer Kevin Horton, having carefully considered the photographs from last night's show, has come to the conclusion that he, indeed, is a great photographer. And he doesn't care who wins, it's a great show either way. Luckily, other staffers are a bit more opinionated. In fact, you can see top six predictions from a number of Flex staffers earlier on this blog.

Gunter is popular

Like we didn't know that. The line for Gunter's autograph keeps growing.

Joe's here

Joe and Betty Weider have just arrived at the Weider booth. The Master Blaster is right on time and looks great.

Lines are forming

The man behind Guntermania has just shown up along with lovely fiancee Kim Lyons. He'll be signing shortly. The line is forming for the Weider brothers book signing. It should be a wonderful time for the Weiders to accept tribute from fans for career of making bodybuilding what it is today.

It is FLEX, y'all

I hardly ever spell FLEX except in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. This is my first time blogging on the fly, so cut me some slack. USA third-place heavyweight Adorthus Cherry spotted his picture in the October issue and claimed he should have won. I think it was tongue-in-cheek, but I guess there's always next year.

Flex blog Central

Hopefully I'm coming through. This is Flex Senior Editor George De Pirro reporting from the Weider Booth at the Expo. The doors recently opened and the activity is starting to buzz. If you are in town, come on over to the Las Vegas Convention Center. You're almost certain to see dozens of bodybuilding champs, as well as some of the biggest guys and prettiest girls in town.

Good morning

Here we are back at the Expo after a busy night and just a few hours sleep. We are expecting Joe and Ben Weider in about an hour to sign copies of their new autobiography Brothers of Iron. Scheduled to be at the Weider booth today are Gunter Schlierkamp, Dennis James, Troy Alves, Mark Dugdale, Roland Kickinger, Lou Ferrigno, Elaine Goodlad, Darrem Charles, Phil Heath, Garrett Downing, Milos Sarcev, Victor Richards and eight-time Mr. O Lee Haney. Also here this afternoon will be previous Olympia winner Dorian Yates. More in a few minutes.

September 29, 2006

Fitness Olympia and Ms. Olympia: Champs Crowned

The fitness girls are coming out again in their one piece; they were already judged in this piece earlier today, this time around is simply for announcing the winners. The announcement of the top six is close at hand.

We just passed 10 p.m. on the West Coast. Fans have gotten a lot of show for the money tonight!

The athletes are receiving their participation medals, being presented by Jim Manion. They will be brought back out for the top six presentation in a few minutes.

Now, women's bodybuilders are back up for their participation medals.

Over $130,000 in prize money up for grabs tonight, combining Fitness and the Ms. O purses.

Fitness girls are coming back out now. The top 6 (in no particular order) are:
Adela Garcia, Kim Klein, Jen Hendershott, Tanji Johnson, Tracey Greenwood, Julie Palmer.

The girls (in one-piece) are now being brought through quarter turns. Now they exit.

Ms. O top six (in no particular order):
Lisa Aukland, Dayana Cadeau, Iris Kyle, Betty Pariso, Bonny Priest, Annie Riveccio.

Now going through quarter turns and mandatory poses. Now, posedown...Van Halen's Panama, if you wanted to know...

They file off, the Fitness top six back on stage for the announcement:

6) $2,000, Julie Palmer
5) Tracey Greenwood
4) $6,500 Tanji Johnson, a great finish for her!
3) $9,500 Jen Hendershott. Wow. Took it with grace, what a competitor.
2) $14,500 Kim Klein
1) Adela Garcia wins, and she deserved it. Good choice on behalf of the judges. Congratulations to Adela, she's reclaimed her Olympia Fitness title she last won in 2004 (she was third last year).

Hugs and congratulations passed around, Jen takes losing her title like a pro, always a champ even in defeat. All in all, a very top-notch fitness lineup this year.

Now, top six in the Ms. O file back on stage.

6) $2,000 Betty Pariso.
5) $4,000 Lisa Aukland
4) $7,000 Bonny Priest
3) Annie Rivieccio
2) Dayana Cadeau
1) Iris Kyle reclaims her Ms. O title she won in 2004, and lost last year. $30,000 check.

Biggest surprise in the women's bodybuilding isn't Iris Kyle -- she was a favorite coming in, no doubt about it -- but how about a reigning champ in Yaxeni falling out of the top six? That's a story. But if anyone can bounce back, it's a veteran like Yaxeni. Wouldn't be surprised to see her at the Fitness International, back in her usual high-caliber form.

And that's the show. Although we came close to four hours, all in all, first impression was it was cool to see the Mr. O contenders take the stage Friday night. There is nothing more exciting in pro bodybuilding than Mr. O prejudging, getting our first look at the absolute best bodybuilders on the planet. Really looking forward to tomorrow evening's finals.

Here are the full results for the Fitness Olympia, based on the scoresheets:
1) Adela Garcia, 35 points
2) Kim Klein, 41
3) Jen Hendershott, 70
4) Tanji Johnson, 89
5) Tracey Greenwood, 106
6) Julie Palmer, 125
7) Julie Childs, 160
8) Angela Monteleone-Semsch, 162
9) Mindi O'Brien, 175
10) Regiane Da Silva, 185
11) Deana Lee, 201
12) Amy Haddad, 222
13) Heidi Fletcher, 256

Ms. O Results:
1) Iris Kyle, 38
2) Dayana Cadeau, 40
3) Annie Riveccio, 52
4) Bonny Priest, 90
5) Lisa Aukland, 92
6) Betty Pariso, 97
7) Yaxeni Oriquen-Garcia, 110
8) Helen Bouchard, 116
9) Gayle Moher, 137
10) Jitka Harazimova, 165
11) Tazzie Colomb, 167
12) Heather Foster, 172
13) Colette Nelson, 184
14) Dena Westerfield, 210

FLEX breaks down the top 6 at the Mr. O

How the writers at FLEX see the top 6 shaping up:

Peter McGough
1. Jay Cutler
2. Ronnie Coleman
3. Victor Martinez
4. Dexter Jackson
5. Melvin Anthony
6. Tony Freeman

George DePirro
1. Ronnie Coleman
2. Jay Cutler
3. Victor Martinez
4. Dexter Jackson
5. Melvin Anthony
6. Tony Freeman

Allan Donnelly
1. Ronnie Coleman
2. Jay Cutler
3. Victor Martinez
4. Dexter Jackson
5. Melvin Anthony
6. Tony Freeman

Mike Berg
1. Jay Cutler
2. Ronnie Coleman
3. Victor Martinez
4. Dexter Jackson
5. Tony Freeman
6. Melvin Anthony
(As a side note, I think David Henry should rightfully make the top 6, based on an almost flawless, if undersized, physique. But these picks reflect the reality that the judges just won't do that. Also, if I had to pick the absolute best bodybuilder as far as total package on stage Friday night, it would be Victor. The guy was really on, and it was nice to see -- he always had the potential, now he's lived up to it and dialed it in condition-wise. If there was no history, and all these guys were stepping in front of the judges for the first time, no name recognition, I think Victor could be crowned Mr. O tomorrow night.)

Greg Merritt
1. Ronnie Coleman/Jay Cutler
3. Victor Martinez
4. Tony Freeman
5. Dexter Jackson
6. Melvin Anthony

Shawn Perine
1. Jay Cutler
2. Ronnie Coleman
3. Victor Martinez
4. Melvin Anthony
5. Dexter Jackson
6. Tony Freeman

Women's Bodybuilding Finals: Routines

Lisa Aukland is first up. Going with some dance music, good choice. Working rather well with her music. Physique is on; overall, a great showing for the 48-year-old.

Second up is Helen Bouchard. Comes out in camouflage gear, helicopter sounds. Rips off the shirt and pants and goes in a march across the stage. Segue into dance music, hitting poses. It's cool, she put some thought and planning into the routine, that's good for her and the sport.

Third to take the stage, Dayana Cadeau. Starts with a headstand, very cool strength move. She has those amazing full muscle bellies, and the condition enough to at least be second in this show. You never know until you see the scorecards, but she deserves a lot of consideration in comparison with Iris. She should get an Olympia title before her career is over, she's consistently knocked on the door.

Fourth to pose, she has benched 402 pounds in competition. Tazzie Columb. Took off three years to powerlift, and is back, qualified just a couple of weeks ago for the O. Needs a bit more symmetry, and more of a V-taper. Good to have her back in bodybuilding.

Fifth up, Heather Foster, winner of the 2006 Europa Super Show. Showing off some dance moves. Confident with her music, one of those details far too many competitors overlook. She's having fun up there. She's not as cut as she needs to be to be competitive for the title, but still, nice night-show showing for her.

Sixth, Jitka Harazimova. Not the best we've seen her. Reportedly suffered a bout of food poisoning that affected her condition. Which is a shame, when on she has the potential to win an O. Hopefully the 2007 competitive season sees her back healthy and at her best.

Next, Iris Kyle. Hasn't lost anything from today's condition. Seems like she'll be taking back the title she won in 2004 and lost last year to Yaxeni Oriquen-Garcia. Seemed to cut her routine short.

Eighth to pose, Gayle Moher. Came out in a cowboy hat, started with a country music theme. Then went into a slow song. Slow music is always a tough routine to pull off, for the guys and girls, since there's a fine line between connecting with the audience and simply lacking energy. She did okay overall.

Colette Nelson came out to song "devil with a blue dress on," and she did have a sexy blue dress on. Segue into a gangster theme, gun prop, ripped the dress off. Nice, nice routine overall, tops in the group so far.

Yaxeni Oriquen-Garcia. Slinks out to a ballad. Very classic routine. Interesting, honestly, is her hair -- looks completely different than usual.

Betty Pariso -- the 50 year old Betty Pariso. Comes out with a walker and in a robe. Trust us, she does NOT look 50. Simply amazing she's stil competing very well at this level. Strips the robe, hits a string of poses. And threw in her now-famous Matarazzo impression for good measure.

Bonny Priest, poses to hip-hop and dance music. Lots of music changes, showing her physique from a lot of different angles.

Brenda Raganot. A veteran who usually does a pretty good job with her routine, and this one is no exception. Physique just isn't as dialed in as it needs to be to make an impact on the Olympia stage. No props, just music and moves.

Annie Rivieccio. Comes out to voiceover of people looking at her. "How did she get so big?" "I wonder how much she benches?" "I'd like to look like that." Then from voice-over to dance music. Wants to make a good impression here, to follow up on her great callouts earlier today in prejudging.

Final competitor, Dena Westerfield. Poses to "(You Give Me) Fever." Didn't hit conditioning, but routine is well organized. First half of routine to that slower song, now into some "Funky Cold Medinah." Can you go wrong with Ton Loc? Well, probably, but she's doing a good job with it, definitely.

Women's Fitness Routines: Finals

Julie Childs, first competitor, has taken the stage. In a cheerleader outfit. All smooth so far ... solid, not spectacular.

Competitor #2, Regiane Da Silva. Basic outfit, no props. Lots of energy. Entertaining, good strength moves. Mid- to late in her routine, the energy faded a bit, but all in all a good showing for her first O appearance.

Competitor #3, Heidi Fletcher, injured her hamstring at the prejudging, but he's out and doing her routine here anyway. Great sport. Moving very well on it.

Competitor #4, Adela Garcia. Comes out in a batman costume. So far, vintage Adela. Not a Hendershott level routine, but certainly seems good enough, coupled with her best-in-the-contest physique, to win this title.

Competitor #5, Tracey Greenwood. Nursing a thumb that's gonna need surgery after the show. She's a tough-as-nails competitor. Battling for a top five spot, and is certainly deserving. Great strength moves. Veteran who knows how to take the stage and own it.

Competitor #6 Amy Haddad. Pirate costume. Good routine (and much better than the pirate show at TI, by the way). Good reverse flip.

Competitor #7 Jen Hendershott. Comes out as a cat, with a bit cat/tiger mask. So far, exactly what you'd expect out of a Jen routine. Three back flips in a row from a standing flat position, very impressive. She is clearly the reigning Queen of Routines in fitness, and can be called the best ever in that department. May or may not be enough to help her overcome her deficit in the physique rounds.

Competitor #8: Tanji Johnson. Came out and put a lot of energy on the stage.

Competitor #9: Kim Klein. Came out on a small motorcycle. Very good on her running flips, lots of air. This is her best routine as a pro. Way more polished than last year. Unfortunate bad ending, went off he stage accidentally on her mini bike. Walked away, looks okay.

Competitor #10: Deana Lee. Basic, not a standout but technically okay.

Competitor #11: Angela Monteleone-Semsch. NIce choreography, lots of good attitude, handstand push-ups were impressive. NIce moves, good strength, deserves a top ten finish.

Competitor #12: Mindi O'Brien. Did her first few moves too far back on the stage; one of those little details that can make a difference. Still, an Olympia-caliber routine.

Competitor #13: Julie Palmer. Overall okay, one slight stumble, but she recovered nicely.

Routine round over. Angela, Adela and Jen Hendershott stood out.

Olympia Men Prejudging Friday Night

We're live from the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, just a few minutes before the men take the stage. I was just shown photos of Jay Cutler taken a few minutes ago, shirt off and flexed (the photos were taken out of sight of the rest of the competitors and media). He's about 274, 10 pounds heavier than last year, and if the photos are any indication, he is totally on. This could be a huge battle.

Of course, it all depends on how everyone else looks. We don't know a thing until the guys stand side by side, and the war begins.

1 - Victor Martinez - looks hard ... maybe the hardest he's ever been, maybe bigger than he's ever been ... abs front thighs showing through ... he's a lot bigger ... but his waist is a bit thick ... massive front biceps ... hamstring separation is sliced on sde chest looking a bit like Ronnie ... Victor got ripped glutes ... fabulous back double bi ... lat spread big and thick ... his legs have never been better ... thighs have never been better ... this is the best we've ever seen Victor

2 - Paco Bautista - spectacular conditioing but a bit unbalanced ... hamstrings are ripped ... unganliness of his body is not helped by his metallic type tan ... in great condition but just doesn't have the structure at this level


3- Troy Alves - looks bigger than weve ever seen him but he's still in shape, crisp and full ... arms look massive ... for the first time ever Alves has striations in his glutes and more seperation in his hams ... back double bi spectacular ... christmas tree on Alves ... tremendous conditioning ... Troy looks great everywhere, with his conditioning, his fullness and his shape .. question is are his hams and glutes ripped enough for the judges ...

4- Dennis Wolf - Spectacular frame ... narrow waist, long body ... needs to fill in in a few places ... great front lat spread ... reeks of potential ... maybe not as sharp as he can be and has been ... probably a result of going back across the Atlantic the last couple of weeks ... wow, back double biceps is great ... needs to be a bit darker ... very thick across the shoulders, arms, traps ... great most muscular

5 - Melvin Anthony - looks bigger than he's ever looked , but is he in condition? ... fabulous front biceps shot ... bringing in the showmanship now with fancy transition from pose to pose ... he's bigger than ever, looks harder than he has for two or three years ... nice and full ... everybody's in shape so far ... back double biceps almost Flex Wheeler-ish ... Melvin told me backstage he wasn't messing around anymore and he's keeping his word ... This is the best we've ever seen Melvin ... finishes off with the splits

6 - Gustavo Badell - looks really hard ... gained size in the last year but his obliques still look a bit too thick ... Doesn't do the side chest shot very well, see more of his arm than his chest ... Looking just a bit blocky ... Big, wide back ... thighs lacking the deepness and seperation that he probably needs ... massive most muscular ... Not as crisp as he has been but Gustavo is always more competitive when he stands next to people

7 - Rodney St. Cloud - needs more thickness and density overall, especially in the upper body ... could be a tad sharper ...

8 - Johnnie Jackson - looks big and full ... upper body overpowering his lower structure ... maybe the thickest chest among the pros ... his upper back is thick and detailed but fades a bit through the lower back ... nice serratus ... Johnnie is full and conditioned but he's probably going to fall a bit behind in the area of balance

9 - Gunter Schlierkamp - absolutely massive ... heavier than last year ... more detailed, he's improved his teres major ... Christmas tree from Gunter ... his back has improved a lot since last year ... abs and thighs not his most aesthetic shot ... could be a bit sharper

10 - Tony Freeman - looking big and full ... nice front double biceps including tensed abs ... impressive back shots ... nice abs and thighs ... good seperation in the thighs and a really narrow waist for a big guy ... impressive Olympia debut ... made great strides this past year

11 - Dexter Jackson - First impression ... just doesn't look as sharp as the Dexter who won the last two Arnold Classics ... with Dexter every bodypart except for calves is there, it just comes down to conditioning .. and he's actually getting harder as he poses ... best serratus so far ...

12 - Branch Warren - tan a bit too light ... he's big but not as sharp as he was at the Arnold, when he was second ... his hamstrings are just hanging ... hamstrings shredded from the back ... looks to be holding a bit of water ... Branch a crowd favorite but he has been in better condition

13 - Ronnie Rockel - looks hard and full ... he's got rid of that crazy tan that he used to have .. not as impressive from the back as he is from the front ... good midsection ... ripped to shreds from the front from head to toe... fades from the back

14 - Mustafa Mohammad - not in condition ... although it does look like he's got a couple of bantamweights hanging on his thighs ... very soft in the glutes and hams ... Mustafa not doing himself justice here ... could have probably been 10 pounds lighter

15 - Darrem Charles - probably same condition as Atlantic City, which was his best of the season ... maybe a bit more shredded than he was in AC ... classic poser, peaked biceps, razor triceps ... maybe just looking a bit shallow in the legs at this point ... thighs striated but not as full as they have been ... very crisp and conditioned but probably lacks the fullness to make an impact at the top of this lineup

16 - Dennis James - big and thick across the shoulders .. obviously changed his gamplan from earlier in the year coming in heavy ... in good condition,seems to be saying the hell with streamlining the midsection ... Dennis just lacking that deep separation that really catches the eye ... massive most muscular ... Dennis has gone for size and we'll see if the gamble pays off

17 - David Henry - in shape, but what else is new ... looking crazy from the back ... back is striated and full .. hams and glutes good ... apart from Troy Alves maybe the most detailed back we've seen so far ... like Darrem Charles he looks a bit shallow in the thigs that's the only real drawback .. David Henry really in shape but is he going to be big enough?

18 - Jay Cutler - Crowd goes crazy for Jay ... Jay first impressions conditioning shades of 2001 but a lot bigger ... thighs shredded ... glutes shredded ... back wider than ever and hard ... Victor may be better on this night ... somehow that Wow factor wasn't there tonight ... have to wait and see how he compares next to Victor and Ronnie to get full impression

19 - Bill Wilmore - great trunk ... maybe better than when he qualified .. it'll be tough to make the top 15 here

20 - Markus Ruhl - Wow ... Markus Ruhl, back to the old Markus Ruhl, not the one we saw last year ... looks like he's torn his right pec ... seems to be general imbalane, that his left side is a bit biger than right side ... good back double bi, maybe the best he's ever had .. glutes are a bit smooth ... really noticeable the difference between left and right though, upper body ... seems to have his waist really under control ... has been in better condition at a lighter bodyweight but very impressive

21 - VInce Taylor - 50 years of age, still has those arms ... upper body competitive but losing a bit in the legs ... very good conditioning in the upper back ... Vince Taylor -- great bodybuilder, let's hope he gets to make the top 15 so we can see him pose

22 - Ronnie Coleman - Crowd goes wild ... It's over ... Give him the ninth .... no more to be said .. bring on the Sandow now... front biceps the best they've been in years ... massive side chest ... Ronnie's full and in condition ... going to the back shots ... very loud crowd ... back double biceps still not his best ever but better than last year ... triceps still a little lacking but we're talking about somebody aiming for perfection .. Ronnie is just blowing anybody away here ... most muscular - this maybe a case her to just leave Ronnie backstage now and leave the rest ofthe judging for the other 21 ....


End of First Round

Second Round - new judging criteria enforced, where instead of having the relaxed round and muscular round separately they will be combined ... when they first call a comparison, group will be put into quarter turns and then the eight mandatory poses ... that way they're seeing the physiques in one snapshot which combines symmetry and muscularity


Third Round

Comparison Round

Will be listed L to R

First Callout
Martinez, Jackson, Cutler, Coleman

Jay getting crowd involved

Jay Cutler looked a bit flat earlier on is filling out a little bit now ... Jay still may find himself in fourth ...Ronnie the clear winner with Victor and Dexter very competitive towards each other ... Ronnie and Victor change places

Coleman, Jackson, Cutler, Victor

Jay and Victor shake hands, now standing together ... Jay is wider ... Jay from the side looking flat in the pecs compared to other guys ...

let's break down the battle for 2nd between Victor and Jay
Jay vs Victor
Front Double Bis - Victor
Front lat Spread - Jay
Side chest - draw
Back double biceps - Victor
Rear lat spread - Jay
Side triceps - draw
Abs and thighs - Victor
Most muscular - Jay

Second Callout
L to R
Anthony, Badell, Freeman, Warren

surprised not to see Troy Alves called out in this lineup as a second callout ... maybe Ruhl as well ... and the big shocker, which is Gunter


Tony Freeman and Melvin looking most impressive of this foursome ... Branch looks to be holding a bit of water and Badell not as hard as he was last year ... In this lineup, Melvin now looking the most impressive, especially from the font ... Melvin never been bigger but he's a lot sharper than he has been ... Melvin, followed by possibly Freeman

Third Callout

Taylor, Ruhl, Schlierkamp, Dennis James

Still no Troy Alves being called ... In this lineup Markus and Gunter who are both German ... Dennis who was born in Germany and Vince Taylor who used to live in Germany and work on a military base in the early 80s ... Troy to me had great condition, fullness, one of the best backs in terms of detail in the show .. had improved his glutes and hams but still seems to be overpenalized because they're not shredded ...

Gunter here looking a little flat ... has to be full and big, otherwise his structure sort of overwhelms the muscle accumulation ... Great that Taylor is there but wouldn't have seen him in that position ... to me Ruhl and maybe Dennis James are the best of this foursome ...

Gunter doesn't have the sweeping lines he had last year ...

Fourth Callout
Freeman, Jackson, Anthony, Badell

Dexter is impressive but still feel that we've seen him sharper than this ... Melvin very competitive with Dexter on front double biceps ... in the background Gunter seems to have gone a bit pale ... very pale

Of this foursome Dexter clear winner and Anthony second ...

Fifth Callout
Ruhl, James, Warren, Jackson

STILL no Troy Alves .. and David Henry should have been called out by now

Johnnie actually in better condition than former training partner Branch Warren ... Ruhl is the most impressive in this lineup ... Despite the imbalance between his left and right (torn pec?) he's still the most impressive in this bunch ... sharpest back double biceps is Johnnie Jackson ...

Sixth Callout

Bautista, Charles, Henry, Alves

Troy Alves at last called ... and David Henry ... Darrem, David Henry and then Troy are maybe three of the best conditioned athletes in the entire field and here they are battling for the lower places ...

Really what catches the eye on this foursome is how well conditioned all four are ... better condition than say Branch Warren, Gustavo ...

Seventh callout

Jackson, Warren, James, Alves

To me, Troy is beating this lineup and Dennis and Branch have had the better callouts so far

As an aside, I see Ronnie's the clear winner, but I"m hearing other people saying they're not that impressed with Ronnie and it's very close between Ronnie and Jay

EIghth Callout

Wolf, Rockel, St. Cloud, Wilmore, Mohammad

seems clearly to be the call for the bottom five ... as befits a guy who won the Australian Grand Prix, Ronnie Rockel looks to be the best of these five ... I stated earlier he's a lot better from the front than from the back ... Dennis got a bit to do on his lower back, lacks that detail ... should be the first of many Olympias for Wolf though

Ninth Callout
Martinez, Jackson, Anthony

Victor fading here a bit ... Melvin getting stronger .... Victor and Melvin beating Dexter in the back double biceps ... Melvinis really coming on strong here ...


Judges calling out Jay Cutler and Ronnie Coleman with this group ...Martinez, Jackson, Coleman, Cutler, Anthony

Seems to be a call for Jay and Ronnie being one and two, so we'll go thru the poses with Jay and Ronnie

Front double biceps - Ronnie
Front lat spread - Jay
Side Chest - Jay
Back double biceps - draw
Rear lat spread - Jay
Side triceps - Jay
Abs and thighs - Jay
Most muscular - Ronnie

This is one of the craziest contests I've ever seen ... had Ronnie the clear winner at the get go with Jay even struggling for third ... jay seemed to progress as show went on, Ronnie seemed to soften up and now it's neck and neck for tomorrow night

In 24 hours conditions and fortunes can ebb and flow, so it could be whoever is in best shape come tomorrow night will be the 2006 Mr. Olymipa. Check the live webcast tofollow in real time and check out Flexonline.com for pictures of the show tonight.


At the expo

Here at the expo. We have about an hour left before the expo closes down on day one. Prejudging for the women's was earlier. Check the blog for key callouts.Quincy Taylor just headed down the aisle. Although qualified, he won't be in the Olympia. James Allen, 2006 USA middleweight fifth place, stopped by to take a photo with world-famous Julian Schmidt. Right now, Roland Kickinger is telling us about his new pilot, "Against Type." Balco's Victor Conte happens to be consulting with a bodybuilder right outside our portal. News happens all over Vegas when the Olympia comes to town.

Olympia Expo

It's Friday, 2 p.m. and the Weider Booth is in full swing. Peter Putnam just stopped by our blogging station. We're going through tons of free copies of Flex and Muscle & Fitness. Athletes signing at the booth include Lou Ferrigno, Vic Richards, Dorian Yates, Roland Kickinger, Milos Sarcev, Mark Dugdale, and Garrett Downing. Phil Heath is on his way.

Man, Vic Richards is B-I-I-I-I-G!!!!!
Everyone seems to be in awe of the big man- much love for Victor at the '06 O Expo.

Speaking of big, Quincy Taylor, who decided not to do the O, just walked by. Looking to be 320 or so. Crazy!

Shawn Perine here- I just measured Vic's arm- 22" even- cold, and he's not even "in shape" according to him at least. That's exactly 22" without a pump or more than a few months of serious training! Wow!!

Women's Bodybuilding

Women coming on, doing their mandatories one by one...

Once again, no weight classes this year, everyone is being judged together.

15 competitors, the favorites are Yaxeni Oriquen, Dayana Cadeau and Iris Kyle.

Iris Kyle just did her mandatories, and she is shredded.

Yaxeni is up ... as usual, she's extremely big -- but she also carries that size extremely well. Very rare combo in the sport, that kind of size with good symmetry.

First callout: Dayana Cadeau, Iris Kyle, Bonny Priest, Annie Riveccio. Yaxeni, not in this first callout, is off, not going to win this one - just not cut enough to defend her title.

Second callout: Lisa Aukland, Betty Pariso in, Iris out of the first-callout lineup. Making Iris the likely No. 1 at this point in the show--usually, if someone is a hands-down winner, they don't get held out for the second callout, and she wasn't.

Third callout: All girls in previous lineup sent back. Third callout is Yaxeni, Helen Bouchard, Gayle Moher, Jitka Harazimova.

Battle between second and third seems to be Dayana and Riveccio. Annie doesn't have the same stage presence as Dayana, but might be slightly better conditioned, especially in her abs.

All in all, this is Iris' show to lose.

Figure Two Piece (Round 2)

The athletes are just coming out on stage for the Figure Two Piece. There are 21 competitors in the line-up, the biggest lineup in Figure O's history (as fairly short as that history is). Lot of pro shows this year, making for a lot of qualifiers -- clearly, Figure is strong and growing.

Now the lineup is in quarter turns as a group...

First callout: Monica Brant Peckham, Jenny Lynn, Amber Littlejohn, Christine Pomponio Pate. Wow, no Mary Lado, that's a shocker.

Second callout: Mary Lado, Gina Camacho, Amanda Savell, Gina Aliotti.

Third callout: Jennifer Searles, Latisha Wilder, Jessica Paxson, Valerie Waugaman

Fourth callout: Michelle Adams, Nina Luchka, Inga Neverauskaite, Tara Scotti.

With the callouts, you have to speculate it's coming down to Monica and Jenny -- although Amber could always pull the big upset, she's been a top finisher the past few years.

Top four (first callout) just got called out again for the final look. The round is over, winner will be crowned tomorrow night at the Saturday night show.

Fitness One Piece (Round 2)

Fitness One Piece round just concluded. The first callout was Adela Garcia, Kim Klein, Jen Hendershott, Tracey Greenwood, and Tanji Johnson. Johnson is making a great case for a top-five finish.

The second callout was everyone in the first, with Julie Palmer joining the group. This could have been a mere oversight on the part of the judges, or done on purpose, hard to tell.

Third callout is Angela Monteleone-Semsch, Mindi O'Brien, Regiane Da Silva and Julie Childs.

The next round upcoming is the one-minute mandatories routine.

Figure Olympia Prejudging

The Figure One Piece round is happening right now. First callout was Jenny Lynn, Monica Brant-Peckham, Amber Littlejohn, Christine Pomponio-Pate, and Mary Elizabeth Lado. No surprises there. Probably between Lynn, Lado and Brant-Peckham, as expected. (Remember, defending champ Davana Medina pulled out this week for undisclosed reasons, leaving the door open for a new champ.)

Second callout is Gina Aliotti, Gina Camacho, Jennifer Searles, Latisha Wilder and Amanda Savell.

Fitness Olympia Prejudging

First round (two-piece) of the Fitness Olympia is complete. Adela Garcia looks like the body to beat. Greenwood, nursing a thumb injury, didn't let that affect her conditioning -- she may almost be too hard, although it's hard to tell what the judges want from show to show. Hendershott, meanwhile, will have to hope to pick up points in the routine rounds (which she usually does).

The first callout was Garcia, Tracey Greenwood, Jen Hendershott, Kim Klein and Julie Palmer.

Second callout was Hendershott, Greenwood, Tanji Johnson, Angela Monteleone-Semsch, and Julie Childs.

Third and final callout was Amy Haddad, Regiane Da Silva, Heidi Fletcher, Deana Lee, and Mindi O'Brien.

Olympia Expo

It's Friday, 2 p.m. and the Weider Booth is in full swing. Peter Putnam just stopped by our blogging station. We're going through tons of free copies of Flex and Muscle & Fitness. Athletes signing at the booth include Lou Ferrigno, Vic Richards, Dorian Yates, Roland Kickinger, Milos Sarcev, Mark Dugdale, and Garrett Downing. Phil Heath is on his way.

Expo and Women's Prejudging

Getting ready to get started

Olympia, Day 1

Hey everyone,

Just got back from "Meet the Olympians" here at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. The place was packed - the lines for Ronnie Coleman and Jay Cutler were huge.

We also had the press conference earlier today (see the full report posted in the Main Story box on our home page). Nothing earth-shattering was said, but it's always interesting to hear from the competitors before the show. It is a unique opportunity for fans to ask questions, so that's always cool. This year, they moved the event into a much bigger space than last year (probably because last year the ballroom it was held in was packed, standing-room only) - and it was still overflowing, not an empty seat in the place.

So tomorrow will be a crazy day, to say the least. The Expo starts up, we have women's prejudging during the day, and at night, the women's finals and - for the first time - the men's prejudging, moved from its usual Saturday afternoon time slot. The question came up during the press conference as to whether the guys minded the contest spread over two days. Surely, they would prefer one, because going two days makes it a bit harder to hold a peak, but on the other hand, it will give the fans two awesome nights of men's bodybuilding, which hopefully makes the extra efforts on their part worth it to them. Only Melvin Anthony spoke up, simply stating, "Two days sucks." We'll see - there's a ton of fans here, and there's a buzz for the Friday night show I've never seen before.

And, truth be told, while it's always said during the hype to any Olympia (or Arnold, for that matter) about how great this lineup or that is, we on the Flex staff keep looking at this particular one in amazement. There will be many a great bodybuilder not making this top ten, most likely including some guys who have won other contests this year, just because of how deep this show is. We have to wait and see how it shakes out, of course, and who comes in in shape and who misses their peak, but 11-15 will be some solid physiques.

We hope to provide some reports to you from the Expo hall starting tomorrow. The Weider booth will have a lot going on, with a full slate of top athletes appearing, and the rare treat of having Joe and Ben Weider stopping by for a few hours on Saturday to sign copies of their new autobiography, Brothers of Iron. It's gonna be a madhouse.

That's it from Vegas for now - we'll catch you tomorrow.

-Team Flex

September 28, 2006

Olympia Prejudging

Coming to you tomorrow from the Olymipa prejudging with real-time callouts. See you then!

September 27, 2006

2006 Olympia Updates

Stay tuned for commentary from the FLEX team starting on Thursday.