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by Matt Canning

1998 IFBB Finnish Grand Prix
(Wrange Company, Super Mega Mass Grand Prix)

Helsinki House of Culture, Finland
October 18th, 1998

DVD produced by Wayne Gallasch of GMV Productions.

The DVD started off with some photos being taken backstage. Nasser was interviewed and said that he felt the most important show of the year was the Mr. Olympia but that the European tour was an extra chance to pick up some money. Milos was interviewed next. He said that the 1998 Finnish Grand Prix was his 61st pro show and that he was hoping to break the record and that his goal was to compete in 100 pro shows. Milos spoke about the inconsistency of the judging standards and gave good examples to explain that they make no sense and that the differences in physique types were apples and oranges, and how direct comparisons in terms of contest placings made little sense. Milos did a good job of explaining the problems with judging and how he wasn't sure exactly what the judges wanted based on placings of himself and others in contests.

Claude Groulx was shown next and was looking very good. He went on to compete in the Olympia up until 2004. At that point, it appeared that he had sustained some biceps injuries.

The pro bodybuilders competing at the show were announced one by one and the pros were all looking very good. Some had made substantial improvements later on in their careers while others had regressed. The pros went through the mandatory quarter turns. Ronnie's waist was very small but I feel that he was more impressive in later years. In 1999, I think he may have had the best of both worlds where he had a trim waist and massive muscularity. Chris Cormier was looking outstanding but I can't say he really improved far beyond the package he presented on the day of that contest. He didn't add any noticeable amount of muscle since that time and his conditioning, while improved in 1999, never blew away what was seen at this contest.

Next, the bodybuilders went through the mandatory poses:

Front Double Biceps
Front Lat Spread
Side Chest
Rear Double Biceps
Rear Lat Spread
Side Triceps
Abdominals and Thighs

The quality of the show was pretty good - naturally not quite at the Mr. Olympia level but that is to be expected. There was still a respectable level of size and conditioning on display. Milos really nailed his conditioning and was shredded from head to toe at 5'10 and 1/2. When Nasser came to pose next, his conditioning was not on a par with Milos, but his size was incredible at 5'11 and 1/2 and what could easily have been over 260 pounds of muscle.
His back poses were not bad either, but obviously not up to snuff with Dorian Yates or Ronnie Coleman. When Kevin Levrone posed after Nasser he also displayed incredible size. His conditioning was not as good as Milos' but it was at an extremely high level. His delts and arms were sick. His calves were considered a weak point, but weren't exactly small, and his back was huge - a good match for his delts and arms. His rear lat spread was thick and wide and his side triceps was one of the best in the biz - both at the time, and in all of bodybuilding history.

The show went on and Chris Cormier posed next. As I said, he had not improved much since the Olympia show. Chris was really blessed with outstanding genetics for bodybuilding and it's too bad he didn't focus more consistently on reaching his full potential.

Gunter looked very good and was probably around 285 lbs at the show. In time, he put on more muscle but what was most noticeable was his improvement in conditioning. He did have shredded glutes at this show though, so his conditioning was certainly at a high level.

Marko Savolainen posed next. Marko has been talked about on bodybuilding message boards like the gossip board of, and people wonder what would have become of him had he continued to compete. It is an interesting question, but as it is now we will never know.

Claude Groulx posed and brought a respectable package to the stage. He went on to later win the 2003 Master's Mr. Olympia contest.

The new Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman posed next. He looked damn good! He had a trim waist and was huge. His arms were awesome but as big as he looked, he still improved in 1999 - in particular at the 1999 English Grand Prix that he won. Although there is a different version of Ronnie out today, he was definitely a winner with the look he had then.

Ken Jones posed and it made me wonder how big he would look in person. Although he is small compared to the other pros, I'm sure that he looks impressive in person.

Next, the callouts began and Kevin Levrone was compared with Ronnie Coleman and Nasser El Sonbaty, the eventual top three at the contest. All were looking good and I think they picked the top three well. The callouts continued and eventually Chris Cormier, Gunter Schlierkamp, and Milos Sarcev well called out. All looked very good.

Dave Smith
New Zealand

Dave looked good but was a bit smooth for the contest. His arms looked weak in the front lat spread but looked better in other poses. It looked like a bit more dieting would have made the show for him.

Gianluca Daniele

Gianluca was big and would have looked incredibly impressive if he was only a tad bit sharper. He had fullness but could have been harder. For size, he didn't really have any weak points.

Federico Focherini

Federico was very shredded. He was hard and striated and definitely hit his peak for the show. He was medium sized in relation to other bodybuilders at the show. He made up for his lack of monster mass with hardness and overall conditioning.

Milos Sarcev

Milos was the best bodybuilder of the pros performing their solo routine at this point in the contest. He had good size but what impressed me the most was his conditioning. He was very hard and had a tight waist. Milos had excellent aesthetics and I really like the package he presented in this show, and many others. Even though it was not the most impressive package of the night, it was still the best in many ways.

Nasser El Sonbaty
Nasser put on a pretty cool routine. I'm not sure exactly what song he performed to, but it seemed to be a fast version of the same operatic song Ronnie Coleman used many times (for example, at the 2003 Mr. Olympia). No doubt this remix was one playing at raves and the like. Nasser was huge and in good condition - had he been as sharp as Milos he would have been an incredible sight to behold. As he was, he was still very impressive.

Kevin Levrone

Kevin posed to the main song from the Godzilla movie from 1998 which was popular at the time (Milos had used this song towards the end of his routine as well). Kevin was huge and in great condition and had big legs which is something he lacked towards the end of his career.

Chris Cormier

Not much more can be said about Chris than I've said previously in this review and in other articles and reviews on him. Great physique - every part being well developed and proportional. Chris posed to the song "The New Style" by the Beastie Boys. Chris will be 40 this year (2007) and I hope he comes back to the stage to compete again.

Gunter Schlierkamp

Gunter always struck me as having potential for modelling being that he was tall, handsome, and foreign. Aside from being unhealthy, bodybuilders have short life spans. Needless to say, I'm happy that pro bodybuilders do participate in it, since I like the industry. Gunter posed to "Come Back" by Bon Jovi. He was looking pretty big, although not as big as he became in later years.

Marko Savolainen

Marko is a legend and was a little smooth for the show, but had huge arms and a huge back. His most muscular pose was crazy.

Claude Groulx

Claude looked about as well as I had seen him at other times. His chest was a little shallow and his arms were rather weak. He had a boxy looking waist, but was in good condition and had good calves. I wonder how he ever did actually tear his biceps. Claude displayed good hardness as always. His delts were definitely 3-D.

Ronnie Coleman

Ronnie looked great. He was in great condition (shredded glutes), had great size (everything and even his calves were not bad), and still maintained a tiny waist. While I wouldn't say this was his best showing, it was still a very good one. Ronnie posed to "Something in My Heart" by Michelle. Although the music was slower in nature, Ronnie's aesthetics made the song suitable for him.

Ken Jones

Ken was the smallest bodybuilder in the contest. His condition was good but not great. I have a suspicion that in person he is actually a fairly good size. That's just my guess but it's hard to gauge his size when he is being compared to such monsters and not regular folks. Kevin Levrone, Chris Cormier, and Gunter Schlierkamp came out to drag Kenny off the stage in a fun move, and Kenny looked to be about 5'3" in relation to the heights of the others.

Top Six Posedown

6. Gunter Schlierkamp, Germany
5. Milos Sarcev, Yugoslavia
4. Chris Cormier, USA
3. Nasser El Sonbaty, Yugoslavia
2. Kevin Levrone, USA
1. Ronnie Coleman, USA - 1998 Super Mega Mass Finland Grand Prix Champion

Overall Review:

This is one of the best but lesser known Grand Prix shows of the late nineties. Usually any of the shows following the Mr. Olympia will not be as recognized but often contains most of the same quality since a fair number of Olympia competitors will compete in great shape in the shows to follow, and this show was no exception.  The video production is also outstanding.

Ronnie looked very good as did the remainder of the top six. In particular, it was a great showing for Milos who was shredded from top to bottom and Kevin had legs in this contest which matched his upper body. This is also a good contest to see some of the lesser known European bodybuilders compete.

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