It's that time of year again! The 2007 NPC USA Championships is upon us. This pro qualifying show is one of the best NPC contests of the year. This year MuscleTech and GNC serve as presenting sponsors with Kemistry as the title sponsor. The show will feature over 400 NPC comeptitors in Las Vegas, Nevada on July 27 & 28, 2007.
2007 NPC USA Championships Preview
The event will be held at the Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall on the Campus of UNLV once again. Ten things to count on for this weekend:
- Jon Lindsay will put on one helluva contest with a packed house.
- Lonnie "The Swami" Teper will keep the show moving very quickly and despite having 400+ competitors look to be out at a decent time on Saturday night. LT always does a tremendous job of emceeing this show and throwing in a few trivia pieces along the way.
- Someone will walk away with a new nickname from Lonnie.
- Nine new IFBB pros will be crowned by the end of the night. 2 men, the overall winner in female bodybuilding and the class winners in each of the six figure classes.
- It will be hot has hell so bring your sunscreen and me a margarita.
- Craig Titus and Kelly Ryan will be in Vegas but not working the Pinnacle Booth.
- More In and Out Burgers will be consumed this weekend then humanly possible.
- J.M. Manion conducting some smokin hot photo-shoots at the host hotel pool throughout the weekend.
- Ron Avidan eating more orange chicken than a small village in China town.
- Chris Hoebrecker, creative director at Weider Publications, celebrates his birthday. Just how Chris will be celebrating is unknown, but what happens in Vegas...
Athlete Check In:
This kick off with the weigh-in/height-check on Thursday evening at Embassy Suites, the host hotel. Friday morning those who didn't make the weight they were after or missed the early check-in/heigh-check can do so at the same place from 9:30am to 10:30am. Prejudging begins at 4:30 pm with the Figure 1 piece followed by the men's prejudging.
Friday night we'll have a pretty good idea of who is in the running to become the newest IFBB pros in Figure and Men's Bodybuilding. Things kick back up at 9am on Saturday with more prejudging and the Finals will start at 6:30pm.
The men's show is what most people are interested in following. The family and friends of the nearly 200 figure competitors may disagree but when you look at the magazine coverage it is almost all devoted to the men's show. The past couple of years have produced some solid pros. Last year's winner Omar Deckard has yet to come into his own but has improved from last year's showing.
We have yet to see Mike Ergas compete as a pro but the word is that he will be competing at the Europa Super show in a couple weeks. Marcus Haley failed to turn pro in the 2005 USA's despite winning the Super Heavy but went on to turn pro at a later show. Marcus has since qualified and is training for the 2007 Mr. Olympia. The overall winner that year, Phil Heath, has had a great pro career thus far since winning the overall title in 2005.
Favorites For 2007
There are always a few favorites going into the contest and this year is no different.
Adorthus Cherry, who has been in the top three in recent outings, looks to be the top contender in the heavyweight division. He posted some preview photos on getbig.com and he looks to be on his way towards a title. He won't win with ease though.
The heavyweight class is stacked and some competitors to keep an eye on are, Grigori Atoyan, Mark Erpelding, Randy Moore, DeShaun Grimez and Chad Martin. Peter Putnam, and now FLEX magazine cover boy, has momentum behind him going into the show. If Peter is able to nail is conditioning from the back and has brought up his upper body a bit from last year look for him to do well. He'll have his hands full with Manny Torres and I'm sure a couple others in this class.
The Super Heavyweight class will be a tough battle as well. Justin Harris is getting some mileage online and is featured in Optimum Nutrition ads' lately. I saw him at the 2007 NPC Jr. Nationals and he has great delts, the question will be how he looks from the back and can he match up with the big dawgs. I like Ben White's chances and my bet is that it is between Ben and Robert Hatch for the winner of this class.
Jerome "Hollywood" Ferguson will undoubtedly be doing some bizarre dance moves with his hair flaring at the night show. Jerome had a few disappointing, but deserved placings last year. Will this be the year he nails it?
Last year's female bodybuilding winner was Heather Policky. Heather, now married and going by the last name of Armbrust, has commanded the female bodybuilding stage in her rookie year. Winning her pro debut in Sacramento and following it up with a third place finish at the Arnold Classic, its proof the winner of this show is no joke.
This year the female bodybuilding line up is a tough one in the upper classes. Look for Isabelle Turell to do well in the heavyweight division and be a contender for the overall title. Holly Geerson should find herself in the top five of whichever class she ends up in. She'll either be in the light-heavyweight or heavyweight class.
Ah the USA Figure Championships...The judges will not have an easy task at selecting who the six new pros in Figure will be. This is one tough show for figure competitors. The A class has been one of the toughest classes all year. Now that Huong Arcinas and Meriza DeGuzman have turned pro the class opens up a little bit.
Monica Mark could find herself in the top callout if she brings her conditioning in a little tighter than in New York.
I like Shelly Rego's physique and she has amazing stage presence. She's definitely a top 3 competitor.
Tivisay Briceno is also out of the way for the shorties as she turned pro at Master's Nationals last weekend by winning the short and overall title. Watch out for the Red Dragon, Liza Kampstra. She slipped a bit in her placing at New York but could easily find herself in the top five as she did at the Jr. Nationals earlier this year.
The B class is one of the classes that has the fewest competitors. Allison Jones has been all over the map with her placings this year. She could find herself a top the winner's circle or in the middle of the pack. Stacy Garcia is one to keep a watch out for in this class.
Jacqui Skibba has been on a mission since just missing out of the top 5 at Jr. Nationals. Look for her to be in the top callouts here. One competitor who will either be at the very top callouts of very bottom callouts will be Tracy Bodner. Tracy packs a lot of muscle on her short frame and her conditioning three weeks out was that of showtime. The judging this year hasn't always rewarded the most muscular physique.
The rest of the classes are every bit as loaded with outstanding physiques as the two shorter classes. A few names I'll throw out to keep your eyes on in the other classes. Anna Laratta survived the cab ride in New York and was 4th at this show last year. If she is able to bring her conditioning in for this show she should be in the top five again.
Erin Heath has been doing very well this year and narrowly missed her pro card in New York. Heath is my pick for one of the six cards at this show. Jamie Reed has been fairing well in 2007 and should be in the top five again in the F Class. Nancy Georges looked great at this show last year and is a definite contender again amongst the tall ladies. Jess Steffens is another tall drink of water the judges will have their eye on in the class. She's on her way to being a star in the biz, keep your eye on her.
My pick for the overall title comes from the F class. She came out of no where, at least to this roving reporter, in Chicago and has THEE look of a superstar. Who is it? It's the Cajun Cutie, Veronica Miller. She has a tremendous physique and a look of a champion. I caught up with Veronica via email and she was kind enough to answer a few questions:Veronica Miller:
Reside In: Lafayette, Louisiana
Last Show: Jr. Nationals
How Did You Place: 2nd in class division Goals for USA's: Pro card baby!!!
What Will You Be Eating After The Finals: Not sure yet...but I will be eating some spicy cajun food when I get back home!
What/Who Kept You Motivated For This Show: Everyone who has been supporting me throughout my training this past year...without them...I wouldn't have gotten this far!
Performance Ready Team
A group of ladies that will turn some heads in Vegas is that of the Performance Ready Team. They were kind enough to answer a few questions for us as well:
Kristine Reinking: Profile
Reside In: Fort Collins, Colorado
Last Show: Figure Nationals
Post Contest Meal: Anything that I have not been allowed to have for the last 3 months!
What/Who Kept You Motivated For This Show: My husband! Without him I may have given in to brownies and pizza after Figure Nationals!
Jessica Steffens: Profile
Reside In: Denver, CO
Last Show: Team Universe, NYC
How Did You Place: 9th
Goals For USA's: Top FIVE!!!
What Will You Be Eating After The Finals: I hear In & Out burgers are a must!
What/Who Kept You Motivated For This Show: My Husband & My Coach
Jenny Lewis: Profile
Reside In: Elizabeth, CO
Last Show: Team Universe
How Did You Place: 4th
Goals For USA's: Well I'd LOVE to go pro, but realistically, if I stay in the top 5 I will be happy!
What Will You Be Eating After The Finals: Not sure??? We have a photoshoot 2 days after the competition, so we have to be careful what we put into our tummies until after the shoot!
What/Who Kept You Motivated For This Show: Actually we have a good friend who is fighting stomach cancer. She is an amazing woman and she wants to stay on this earth so badly! She was talking to me the other day about how she wished she could work out and come to my gym. So I am dedicating this show to her! She isn't able to workout or do the things that she wants to do, so I'm gonna do it for her!
Jacqui Skibba: Profile
Reside In: Centennial, CO
Last Show: 2007 NPC Jr. Nationals
How Did You Place: 7th place figure B Class
Goals For USA's: To present my best physique yet on a national stage, and to break into the top 5!
What Will You Be Eating After The Finals: Without a doubt, a double double from In N Out Burger!
What/Who Kept You Motivated For This Show: Finishing in the top 10 at Jr. Nationals has motivated me to keep improving for the USAs. Of course I couldn't do it without my wonderful coach Carla Sanchez, and my incredible Performance Ready teammates who push me and inspire me every day
Liza Kampstra aka Rockstar: Profile
Reside In: Denver, Colorado
Last Show: NPC Nationals
How Did You Place: 11th
Goals For USA's: Top 5
What Will You Be Eating After The Finals: I like to eat in courses... 1st course will definitely be a Double Double with Fries (In-n-Out Burger), 2nd Course will probably include something sweet and chocolate (maybe a yummy cookie), and courses 3-??? are certain to include alcohol, but what happens in Vegas....
What/Who Kept You Motivated For This Show: My coach IFBB Pro Carla Sanchez, my girls on the Performance Ready Team, two photoshoots immediately after competition and my son...who really likes it when Mommy brings home a trophy!
Anna Laratta: Profile
Reside In: Greenwood Village, Colorado
Last Show: '07 Team Universe - N.Y.
How Did You Place: Top 10th, Yippy!!
Goals For USA's: Placing top 10 in NY was an honor based on the level of competition, however, I'd love to come back and re-claim my spot of last year in the top 5. Judges have mentioned they'd like to see me come in a little leaner, so I've bumped up the cardio intensity and hoping to come in a little more conditioned.
What Will You Be Eating After Finals: I need to try to keep my diet "fairly" clean after the show due to an upcoming photo shoot, but chips/salsa and margarita's sounds sooo good!
What/Who Kept You Motivated: Of course my Trainer, Carla Sanchez has kept me motivated, as well as my PR Team mates, but I'd have to say most the motivation comes from my wonderful husband and four children. Not a day goes by that my husband and children don't remind me to get in more cardio so I can crack the top 5.
That is the skinny on this weekend's show. You never know what will happen in Vegas. Feel free to comment on my picks or if you have a few of your own. Who do you like? Who will be the big winner this weekend in Vegas?