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If you didn't get to the Masters Olympia show in 2002, the next best thing is to catch it on DVD. Fortunately, Lou Stiefel videotaped it and Wayne Gallasch has done his usual fine job of overseeing the tape's production. It's a Gallasch affair, with son Sean editing a weekend of events down to a trim two hours, and wife Tina handling the handsome full-color video box cover.
Since I did a report on the contest, I'll just cover what the tape reveals about the show. The camera is stationary, but sometimes moves in for closeups of competitors onstage, tracking back and forth as they move around, or as lineups shift. Since the filming is continuous, we don't get TV-style camera angles spliced together in a way that interrupts the flow of what's going on. Sean Gallasch has just deleted the downtime between onstage events, and done a selection of the prejudging lineups. Virtually all of the evening show is on the tape.
The first 44 minutes offer generous excerpts from the three prejudging rounds. Juan Márquez appears only on this part of the tape, since he dropped out due to injury before the finals. He was impressive, especially in the chest, so it's nice to get a look at what he brought to the contest.
For anyone who cares about the outcome of a bodybuilding contest, prejudging is often the most exciting time of the show -- it's when the ranking is done, and competitors battle for the judges' attention. At one point or another everyone onstage appears in the comparison lineups; however, emphasis is on the ones who made the top six. If you want to play judge and decide yourself who should have won, you'll get plenty of shots of Youngblood, Taylor and Paulsen battling it out with each other. The tape offers ample evidence that each one of them was at the top of his game. These are the top masters-level pros in the world, so I don't envy the judges their job.
Besides stage lineups, other dynamics of the contest came clear in the prejudging section. As the head IFBB judge called out positions to assume, some audience members coached the competitors with extensive directions, often in a language other than English. The international flavor of the event emerged in the mix of languages used; T'Hooft, for instance, while representing France, was being coached in German. Besides the audience, the interaction of the bodybuilders on the risers behind the lineup is interesting to watch. Some of the men watch the the lineup; others focus on themselves; still others chat with their nearby competitors or the stage manager, who was walking around toweling off their sweat. (Youngblood must have gone through several towels alone.) The disappointment on some men's faces was clear, as their callouts placed them out of the serious competition. It's odd that the risers placed the ones with less status higher than those in the callouts; the closer you were to the floor here, the better. The men on the risers were in partial shadow, some being little more than silhouettes during the proceedings.
After prejudging, the evening show immediately began with the first stage presentation. I've described the competitors and their routines in my contest report, but I'll note some things beyond that. Posing in this contest ran the gamut from perfunctory to brilliantly artistic. The best posers onstage -- Apperson, Conrad, Hawk, Graneheim, Hnatyschak, T'Hooft, Youngblood, Delczeg, and Giurgi -- contrasted to those with weaker routines. Some had much more complex use of music and sound effects than others, and more complex didn't always add up to better. Palumbo's and Kemp's routines were too long; Taylor's and Frydrych's were over determined by their music. Paulsen, who looked terrific during prejudging, had a standard presentation that didn't help him any. Brown looked miserable posing to "The Impossible Dream." Baccianini's "I'm not your boy toy" shtick was the one he's used before, and has become a bit stale -- especially since it's an outrageous gimmick. Youngblood's gimmicks were all new, and blew the top off the place.
About an hour of the tape is given over to the individual routines of the competitors. In the last ten minutes we get the awards, shorn of the inevitable time delays necessary for judges to calculate scores. The trophy and medallion for over-50 winner went to Frydrych, who looked thrilled to win it. He knelt and gave thanks before leaving stage. Cironte's over-60 award was more expected (it's his fourth). Then the tape jumped to the "top six posedown," during which the head judge asked Taylor to move next to Youngblood in the lineup. When a front double bicep pose was called, Taylor waited till Youngblood hit his and shook his head as if to say, "You call that a bicep pose?" before hitting his own. Such psych-out tactics work if you have charisma, but Taylor didn't -- and it made him look bad. After the final posedown, the awards went out. Fifth place was awarded first, to Duffy. Hawk was a popular fourth. Paulsen's third place got booed. Hnatyschak was about to leave the stage, but MC Tim Wilkins announced him as tied for fifth, and sometime during the other awards he got his trophy. Taylor looked stunned to get second place -- he didn't expect it -- but he congratulated Youngblood like a gentleman. Then Youngblood was standing onstage alone, grinning in the spotlight of bodybuilding history.
This is a great tape of a great contest -- one that I thought set a new standard in pro masters bodybuilding competition. Watch it yourself, and see if you agree.
Mike Emery December 2002