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A-1020: 2000 Masters' Olympia

A-1020  2000 MASTER'S OLYMPIA  For more details on how to order, click here.

Jan Tana has recently sponsored the IFBB Masters Olympia in conjunction with the Jan Tana Classic, a weekend of competitions featuring several different men's and women's bodybuilding and fitness competitions, both amateur and pro. In July 2000, these shows were held on the weekend of July 15th in Roanoke, Virginia, at the Civic Center, an impressive venue for these contests. Booths with clothes, food, supplements and BB celebrities lined the hallways around the auditorium. Having attended this event, I was interested in the videotaped results of the men's shows. Fortunately, Wayne Gallasch obtained rights to the tapes made at the event. This videotape gives the finals for the Masters Olympia, as well as generous highlights from the NPC men's open competition, held the same day.

The tape starts with the NPC show, a national qualifier attracting a number of fine amateur bodybuilders from the east coast. The men's competition includes masters level, novice and open classes; these highlights are drawn from the open class only, but the 48 minutes of material reveal what this show was all about. With few exceptions, competitors who made the top five in each of the six weight classes get their full routines displayed; two classes had fewer than five. I will not indicate most names, as I only have the information announced by the MC, who's sometimes inaudible on the tape due to the cheering crowds.

Each weight class has impressive competitors, with crisp photography varying from full-body shots to closeups. The videotaping is continuous, not heavily cut excerpts from different angles like most TV programs do it. The downtime between each onstage presentation is edited out. For the finals in an NPC show, the top five in a weight class (chosen during prejudging) must choose individual music and tailor a routine that projects his best body parts, overall muscularity and symmetry. At a regional show such as this, the audience is largely composed of friends and family of competitors onstage, so you hear partisan cheering by locals supporting their guy. The routines vary widely, from plain (compulsory poses from one position onstage) to fancy (back flips, moonwalks, dance movements, moving across the stage, and so on). The best routines are autobiographical statements in that they project the poser's personality and sense of self -- as well as his desire to win.

Some of the bantamweights look bigger than they are till the award givers appear and tower over them. The MC jokes that the winner's award is life-size (it's 18 inches high), getting a laugh from the competitor himself. The lightweights only had two competitors, so it doesn't take long. The middles are an exceptional class which give the judges a workout. The winner of this class, Mike Valentino, deserves to go further (and undoubtedly will, since he won the overall contest, thus qualifying for national NPC shows).

 The light heavyweights (starting at 176¼ pounds) get into serious freakiness. They're impressive as a group, most with high-order routines. The one who finished 3rd in this class, who I believe was announced as Trey Betz, is excellent. The heavyweights (starting at 198¼) are also strong in builds and posing. The man who won this class also had a father in the masters class for the NPC show; what a family! The one super heavyweight (over 225¼) who competed didn't have to stand in a lineup for his trophy.

Now the class winners return to allow judging of the overall winner. The judges ask for quarter turns, compulsory poses, and a posedown. The camera pans back and forth across them as they try to one-up each another with a bicep or crab shot in front, sending the crowd into screams for their favorite. When the pandemonium is over, just before the overall award, the MC says, "Everyone's a champion here." He's right. Few regional NPC shows get internationally released on video these days, and this tape shows how strong regional contestants can be.


 The Masters Olympia contest starts immediately after the NPC awards, jumping to the start with a routine by Aivars Visockis (Latvia), the competitor I most liked in this show. He poses superbly, has a thick shape and a great look. All his movements, some highly detailed, meld into a completely controlled performance. Visockis deserves an international reputation, and this tape may help him achieve that.

Honore Cironte (Canary Islands, Spain) is indeed a master poser. His shoulders are impressive, with back poses constantly drawing attention to them. He's doing mainly an upper-body routine here, with a trademark crossed-arm pose at the end. His legs lose him some points.

 Hans Hopstaken (Finland, now in US) shows promise in his first pro appearance, with fantastic thickness to his torso, best displayed in back lat spreads. With a small goatee and a bald head, he looks like an immense Egyptian king carved out of sandstone eons ago. His legs are the best onstage, with the possible exception of Jim Quinn.

Slow organ music doesn't begin to suggest what the 4' 10" court jester of bodybuilding, Flavio Baccianini (Italy, now in US) has in store for us.. A master of gesture in projecting a distinct sense of self, Baccianini starts quietly but shifts to a dramatic routine with lyrics running, "I'm not your boy toy" (at which point he lies down onstage and shakes his finger "no" at us). Flavio carries his own flashy special effects wherever he goes, constantly distracting onlookers from the bigger guys. When he waves at the crowd at the end, he's clearly won it over.

  Vince Taylor (US) hits the stage next, with a superbly integrated combination of different styles of movement drawn from Bob Fosse striptease, an "Ah'll be back" robot routine, and Janet Jackson video dancing. He's been bigger before, including at previous Masters O shows, but his legs and shoulders do not disappoint, and next to Baccianini he has the best routine.
Following is Robbie Robinson (US), the first winner of this show in '94, and a veteran stage presence since the '70s. He starts with a front and then back double bicep pose, projecting dignity but little excitement. His elaborate setups result only in traditional poses, a far cry from the routines others now offer. He's strongest in the back and shoulders here.

Katsumi Ishimura (Japan, now in US) in his 60s, looks at least ten years younger. Small in stature, he has fine cuts; his neck, flaring into thick traps, focuses his whole build. An assured, direct routine without frills is well displayed.

  The big bruiser Guido Conrad (Germany), comes on next. This extraordinary European BB, along with some other foreign competitors living in the US, makes this pro show arguably the most international offered in North America in the year 2000. Conrad's abs and back can dominate any stage. His choreography, not fancy, does the job. Only his legs hurt him in this appearance.

 Scott Wilson (US), well-known in the '80s, doesn't pose long, but offers strong arms and overall size. His vascularity could be better. He gets a lot of support from fans who remember him.

Stan Frydrych (Poland, now in US) begins with a firm smile and dramatic pacing. His self-control and projected pride are the strongest of anyone onstage. Initially offering a traditional routine, he shifts to pulsing music to hit knockout shots one after another, never losing his assurance. Once he's better known, his immense shoulders, legs, abs and torso should do damage onstage. He's the real thing.

Clearly a veteran, Emeric Delczeg (Romania, now in US) offers some of the best posing on the tape. His huge biceps are shown off with sweeping gestures between each pose. This is close to performance art in its effect. Unlike most, he often looks down at himself as he poses, drawing the viewer into a personal dialogue he has with his build. His smaller size works against him here, but he has everything else.

 Well-known a decade ago, Jim Quinn (US) makes a comeback with this show, delighting many in the audience with a routine highlighting a gargantuan body, especially his legs. His cuts are outstanding, but his routine is too short. He's still competitive and then some.

Fitness model Lee Apperson (US) offers a slow routine designed more for photography than audience viewing. His hamstrings are impressive in poses with his back to the audience, but he's lean for his height (well over 6'). He has the generic smile of a toothpaste commercial actor, and could use more spontaneity onstage. Fans of fitness men will like him, though.

Moody heavy metal opens the routine of Renato Somenzi (Italy, now in Sweden), but it shifts to a lighter mood supporting balletic movements, especially with his legs. His pacing is effective, but the compulsory poses pale after fancier routines. His legs are stronger than his torso, unusual in this show. Somenzi plays to the crowd, not the Fox TV cameramen blocking his way (one man he gestures aside, to the audience's cheers).

Veteran Danny Padilla (US) poses to Sinatra's "I Did It My Way" for a swan-song effect. This old fashioned routine is now usually left on the prejudging stage, but he loosens up a bit at the end. He doesn't have the cuts for this show, but has solid legs, including calves.

Nicolae Giurgi (Hungary) concludes the competition with a beautiful routine displaying fantastic abs, thick torso, legs -- everything, in fact. He shows off deeply veined arms, then counts the beat of the music with bouncing pecs (the audience roars over this). Projecting a powerful masculinity, he moves like he's on wheels. Surely this man is destined for high rankings in top shows.


The tape shifts to the final lineup, drawn from the semicircle of competitors across the stage. The top five get called out -- Hopstaken, Baccianini, Taylor, Robinson, and Quinn -- and the rest file off. The head judge calls for quarter turns and compulsory poses in a standard fashion, but these guys aren't standard, offering flourishes to draw attention to themselves. You can hear Taylor's customized sound effects (blown-out breaths that sound like a rocket launching) as the music plays lower at this point. When the posedown occurs, some of them almost knock each other out of the way, as the audience hoots for the most outrageous ones. When Quinn gets in front of the others with a lat spread, you can't see anything else. A posedown gives the judges time to pick a winner, but they're the most competitive moment for those onstage, and the audience freaks over their antics. It's great fun.

Awards conclude the tape. Ishimura gets a medallion around his neck for the "Over 60" award, followed by a another for Robinson for "Over 50" winner (his fourth in this show). The top five placings are as follows: Quinn fifth (with some audience members booing as if to say, "he wuz robbed"), Hopstaken fourth (he should have been higher), Robinson third (I wouldn't have given him top five), Baccianini second (another I wouldn't have given top five), and Taylor first. If I had judging this show, I would have placed Visockis, Frydrych and Giurgi higher.

This is a great tape of two excellent shows, stunningly edited by Sean W. Gallasch.. It deserves to be seen.

Mike Emery,  Nov. 2001

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