'Best' Bests Them All!
The Vancouver USA Natural 2008 Bodybuilding Championships and Tanji Johnson Fitness and Figure Classic is now just another page in history. But the fifteen hundred spectators in attendance all had prime position to witness the twenty-fourth such event make its mark in bodybuilding lore.
Spokanite Mike Best, winner of the light-heavyweight class as well as open men overall honors, brought in a perfectly chiseled physique that combined near perfect symmetry with conditioning rarely seen at a regional level show. Best always been a contender in the Pacific Northwest but his showing in this year set a new standard of excellence. Another perennial favorite who was edged out by Best was the incomparable heavyweight Twayne Rawls.
Rawls sports a pair of arms punctuated with baseball biceps and long triceps with deep muscle bellies. Another pair of rivals in the overall was middleweight Jody Lamp and lightweight Paul Kililimoku. Both Lamp and Kililimoku flaunted physiques that were well muscled and highly defined.
Alaskan Cinzia Clapp ventured down from the Great White North and succeeded in winning the fitness competition with seven out of seven first place votes. Clap has made considerable improvements on her physique since last seen at the 2007 Alaskan Ironman. Her routine was powerful with a perfect blend of strength, agility and flexibility components. The second place award went to Paula Williams-Gulman and third to a steadily progressing Melissa Mitchell.
Lone junior fitness competitor Victoria Wade showed courage in being first up at the show. Wade may have been hesitant as her routine began but with the encouragement of a full house at the Skyview auditorium she literally blossomed before our eyes.
Speaking of blossoming the seven year old "Shirley Temple" of fitness, Tia Buell, was back to present a solo guest performance. With her curly locks and mile-wide smile she is fast becoming one of the most sought after performers in the area.
Forty figure women made their way to Vancouver to compete in six classes. Masters winner Brittani Simpson was a standout. Her near perfect stage presentation was only out shadowed by her ever-present winners smile. Camano Islander Julie Barnett came on strong in the one-piece round but faltered a bit in the two-piece and had to settle for a solid second place.
In the under 5' 3" class former 2007 Evergreen State overall winner Julie Ann Lee came to town hoping for a repeat. She got her wish as the class winner and the overall Vancouver Figure champion. A well-proportioned Lynn Fitzthum finished second with Carole Castillo taking the third place trophy.
A mere three points separated under 5' 5" winner Jennifer La Brie and second place Bridgit Hake. Platinum blond Lynn Cullen rounded out the top three.
Fiona Krug's tapering back, sweeping thighs and perfectly balanced shoulders are what gave her the judges first place nod in the under 5' 7' class. Besides a well-trained physique second place Ginny Gardea exuded some serious charisma throughout her stage presentation. One of the most pleasing competitors of the evening was third place winner Deon Kappenman.
In the tall class Jill Lane's perseverance paid off. Lane has obviously been training hard over the winter months and it showed. Her subtle improvements made a marked difference in this show. Second place winner and newcomer Lauren Huber is woman to watch this season. Her stage presence was felt all the way to the back row. Huber's competition suits were the perfect cut for her body type and color for her skin tone. Long time favorite Christie Patterson was awarded third place in a very tough class.
The women's figure overall was by far the most difficult decision of the night. Each competitor had a vastly different body type and musculature. It is very hard to discern strengths and weakness in such a diverse group of women. At nights end the lovely Julie Ann Lee was awarded top honors and the 2008 Tanji Johnson Figure title.
The teen men division was one of the most entertaining of the evening. Five young men pitted themselves against one another to see if they had a future in the sport of bodybuilding. Winner Jedidiah Fowler's size and conditioning belied his youth. He posed confidently and from the audience response was their favorite as well. Second place winner Derek Frank did not let Fowler's edge take the cock out of his walk. Frank basked in the applause from the crowd and was spurred on during his routine by the continued ribbing from MC Kim Kong Farrison. Third in the class was Michael Clark.
Linda Ham was the unopposed women master competitor. Ham did not let her lack of competition dampen her spirit as she posed her way through an elegant routine.
Kevin James swept through the master's men over forty class with a half-dozen first place votes. Alan Woody's conditioning and classic posing routine carried him through to a solid second finish. Nothing less would be expected of Woody as his is trained by poser extraordinaire and demanding taskmaster Donnie Wetstone. Last years master's overall winner Mark Kimble was relegated to third place this year in spite of considerable improvements to his overall physique. That shows how difficult the over forties were.
It would be easy to overlook the over fifty division as it was another solo class. That is unless that competitor is none other than Corky Gainsford. Gainsford can always be depended on to bring an eclectic posing routine to the night show. This year was no different. His frenetic routine brought even more life to the already enthused audience.
Figure competitor Christine Patterson crossed over to the novice women bodybuilding class and took first place and the overall award. Mention must be made of Anastasia Chumova and her debut competition. Chumova is a protégé of mult-title holder and veteran poser Janet Guenther. At first glance Chumova appears to be tall and slight but she possesses the type of body that fills up once she starts posing. Muscles literally pop out from nowhere.
The novice men's classes were a contrast of opposites. The flowing lines of lightweight winner Beau Henning, the pleasing symmetry of middleweight Mike Handy and the ruggedness of heavyweight winner Zakee Shakir epitomized the full spectrum of physique types in bodybuilding. This evening in Vancouver USA the judge's preferred the massive muscularity of Zakee Shakir.
Open Women's Bodybuilding:
Sadly the open women's divisions attracted only three bodybuilders. Lightweight winner Cindy Goodrich continues to fine-tune her physique. Goodrich's melodious free posing was the perfect vehicle to display the flowing aspect of her figure.
Janet Guenther has extended her amazing 2007 winning streak into the 2008 season by winning the heavyweight class as well as the overall. Kelly Pike took second in the heavies. Thanks to all three ladies for keeping women's bodybuilding a part of the show.
The guest posers included the incredible Laura Mak. Mak jump-started the crowd early in the evening with one of her high-energy fitness routine that shows why she is still in demand all over the country.
Local IFBB pro Michele Mayberry appears regularly around the Northwest and I never tire of her routines. This year Mayberry did a take off of the quintessential girl next door, Mary Ann, from Gillian's Island. Come on guys, you know we all loved Mary Ann more the Ginger! We love Michele too. She is going to be the next big thing in fitness from the Pacific Northwest.
Featured Guest poser of the evening was Dexter Jackson. The "Blade" is coming off an impressive string of victories. He took home his third Arnold Classic win, a week later he took the Australian Pro soundly defeating some stiff competition and while in the South Pacific he decided to take a jaunt over to New Zealand and bring home another trophy and check. Not a bad March for Dexter Jackson.
Additionally there were a host of pros and VIPs in the house. Flex Wheeler appeared courtesy of EFX promoting his Natural Freak supplementation. IFBB Fitness Pro Tami Ough and IFBB Figure Pros Kristi Tauti and Sandy Grant were on-hand to sign autographs and present trophies. IFBB bodybuilder and 2007 Europa champ Mah Ahn Mendoza made her presence known. NPC figure front-runner Michelle Anderson was all smiles as she helped with backstage expediting.
The only VIP missing was you. Too late for this year but you can remedy that situation by attending the 2009 VancouverUSA Natural Bodybuilding Championships and Tanji Johnson Fitness and Figure Classic on April 4th.
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Dexter Jackson & Michele Mayberry