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2005 Arnold Classic Fitness Weekend Contest Report

Ms. International, Fitness and Figure lnternational
March 4-6, 2005 - by genex hwang

Columbus,OH, USA - The first Governator-era Arnold Fitness weekend kicked off with great fanfare as the expo hall was the busiest it has ever been on a Friday and packed crowds gathered to see the figure,fitness and women's bodybuilding prejudging. It was also the first contest after the IFBB's '20% memo' went out, so many fans and athletes watching with anticipation.

With the fitness athletes' entrance, the crowd was treated to an impressive lineup with some of the top names in fitness: Adela Garcia-Friedmansky,Jenny Hendershott and Kelly Ryan. Kim Klein's physique was rocking and helped to push her to third, placing ahead of Ryan in the final placings.

The top two spots were hotly contested as the two midwesterners battled to within a couple points of the title. The reigning Olympia champion Friedmansky looked strong, but this was Jen Hendershott's night. The bubbly Ohioan nailed an incredible routine and brought her best physique to date to take home the victory and stand next to Arnold for her interview.

While the international component of the fitness competition was lighter than in the other divisions, the athletes were still impressive, with Canadian Mindi O'Brien perhaps feeling some of the '20%' rule, while Australian Debbie Czempinski intentionally brought in a softer package, downgrading her muscularity for the revised criteria. Those two were the only non-Americans on stage, there were as few in the figure division.

In figure, Jenny Lynn was the winner once again, edging out Monica Brant Peckham. Monica looked as strong as always, and was the first name called out in every round of judging. However, there was a strange feeling of foreboding in the crowd that she would still somehow end up in second place.

That was confirmed at the finals, when her name was announced before Lynn's. Monica was a tad softer than in other shows, but still looked like she should have been the champ.

Rising star Mary Elizabeth Lado has the genetics to win, and with a little more muscle maturity will be pressing the top girls. As more and more athletes with gifted genetics infiltrate the pro ranks, they will likely push aside those who turned pro in the early days when you could qualify with a third place finish at an amateur show.

The bodybuilders then took the stage. The difference between their physiques, and those of the women previously on stage was dramatic, as usual. With six competitors in each weight class, the battle for the Olympia qualifying spots was intense. The lightweights included many familiar faces; it seems that there is very little new blood on the pro stages lately. All but Austria's Susanne Niederhauser have competed multiple times in 2004. With the small number of women's pro shows, you would hope for a lot of new faces on stage to add freshness. That being said, Niederhauser was definitely a welcome addition. With her dramatic x-frame and awesome shapes, she needs to bring up her legs and harden up a little more to win. At her last pro event, it was evident that she could win a title. At this show, the judges rewarded the bigger, harder women.

Brenda Raganot took the class ahead of Mah-Ann Mendoza. Both looked solid and full, and the two edged out Canada's Desiree Ellis, usually sliced, who took a bit of the edge off for this show. All qualified for the Olympia. I hope we'll see Niederhauser qualify later and bring an even better package to the "O".Perennial top placer Angela Debatin was not quite on. With the tough competition in the class, she placed fifth just ahead of fellow South American Fanny Barrios. Nancy Lewis was unable to compete because of medical complications that arose before the show and she had to pull out because of that.

Christine Pomponio-Pate continued her hot streak and has a great overall package that should keep in her in the top five or better. Latisha Wilder (at left) finally was not overlooked; with her impressive v-taper and curves, she cracked the top five. The best calves - hands down - go to Jane Awad, who also looked strong on stage.

Next came the heavyweights and when Betty Viana strode out on stage, she looked incredible. With her almost cartoonish proportions, the Venezuelan presented perhaps her best physique to date and it looked like she could win the show. Full muscle bellies, incredible curves, and of course that signature x-frame set the standard for the heavyweight class.

Paulina Talus looked a bit off, and she had to go to the hospital during the weekend and was not able to compete at finals. Since Ms. Olympia Iris Kyle, the title winner in 2004, was not competing this year, Yaxeni Oriquen was the heir apparent to the Ms. International title. She did not disappoint. Coming in tight and full as she almost always does, Oriquen beat out her fellow Venezuelan. If Viana had won, it would have been no surprise; the two will no doubt be battling it out for more titles to come.

Betty Pariso took third, but she was not at her best. At her age she looks incredible. Lisa Aukland and Christine Roth both looked strong. Roth, at her second Arnold Classic showing, was one of the fan favorites. During prejudging her entrance onto the stage earned the most camera flashes and applause. I hope both Roth and Aukland will qualify for the Olympia. Since the year is young, there are many opportunities to qualify still.

In the end, the 20% rule didn't seem to affect the bodybuilding judging. In fitness and figure, some of the more muscular athletes were punished.

Of course the Expo at the Arnold is almost a bigger draw overall than the competitions themselves, and this year was no different. Despite the row over steroids in Major League Baseball and track and field, the events of the weekend were not hurt. Arnold did make some statements about the subject, but as a whole, the weekend in Columbus went off without a hitch.

Some notables in the expo included Canadian Trina Gillis looking fantastic.
Other notables included Danielle Hollenshade, IFBB Pro Debbie Leung, strongwoman Robin Coleman, the impressive Bulk Nutrition booth, Lisa Dawes, Amanda Swallow (now a bodybuilder), Monika Kovacs, former Playmate turned bodybuilder Rebekkah Armstrong and NCAA champion shotputter Adriane Blewitt.

For more on the expo, check out our photo report in the Buzz section!

female muscle


Ms. International

Overall: Yaxeni Oriquen*

1) Brenda Raganot*
2) Mah-Ann Mendoza*
3) Desiree Ellis*
4) Susanne Niederhauser
5) Angela Debatin
6) Fanny Barrios

1) Yaxeni Oriquen*
2) Betty Viana*
3) Betty Pariso*
4) Lisa Aukland
5) Christine Roth
6) Pauliina Talus

Figure International

1) Jenny Lynn*
2) Monica Brant Peckham*
3) Mary Elizabeth Lado*
4) Christine Pomponio-Pate*
5) Latisha Wilder*
6) Amber Littlejohn*
7) Jane Awad
8) Elaine Goodlad
9) Zena Collins
10) Shannon Meteraud
11) Lyndsey Beattie Ahearne
12) Allison Bookless
13) Jen Hartley

* qualifies for 2005 Olympia

Fitness International

1)Jen Hendershott*
2) Adelina Garcia-Friedmansky*
3) Kim Klein*
4) Kelly Ryan*
5) Stacy Hylton*
6) Julie Palmer
7) Tracy Greenwood
8) Debbie Czempinski
9) Tanji Johnson
10) Mindi O'Brien
11) Carla Sanchez
12) Kirsten Nicewarner


* qualifies for 2005 Olympia

Last updated: 3/8/2005 @ 3:12 p.m. PT






















































































































































































































































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