Text and Photos by Mark Mason
Take the 1997 teen national champ. Add the 1997 masters champion. Put them in the nicest venue north of the 54^ 40’ line. Mix in the cream of the crop of Alaskan NPC competitors and throw in Ms. Olympia Valentina Chepiga and soon-to-be Mr. Olympia Victor “The Big VZ” Martinez. What do you have? A Garry Lodoen and Philip Bradfield bodybuilding extravaganza at the William A. Egan Center in downtown Anchorage.
The Guest Posers:
Over 200 fans packed the Egan Center to cheer on their favorites and get a peek at some of the best guest posing that Alaska has seen in a decade. In addition to Chepiga and Martinez, David Bierra gave his best interpretation of several Michael Jackson classics and the internationally acclaimed Chugiach Choir performed as well.
Adding to the event were nearly twenty health and fitness vendors from around the town and around the country providing a great atmosphere as well and bagfuls of free goodies.
The Microphone Commander:
Back in Anchorage was the irrepressible MC Kim “Kong” Farrison. If Kong was reluctant to return after his stare down with a bull moose on the loose during his visit in April, it wasn’t evident.
Men's Open Bodybuilding:
The battle of the open men was one of the high points of the evening. Each class had great physiques across the board. The shapely lightweight Ed Bailey demonstrated a spirited posing routine that brought the already excited fans to near-pandemonium.
Light-heavyweights Joshua Bridgeman and Rob Crews slugged it out so long and hard that the stage wasn’t big enough for the both of them, or either of them. The battle spilled into the audience and almost out the back door.
The Battle For Overall:
If you thought it couldn’t get any better after the Bridgemean/Crews brouhaha you would have been wrong. Not to be outdone heavyweights Nicholas Pilch and Chris Howard’s posedown also moved from the stage to floor. Several pleas from Kim Farrison for Pilch and Howard to return to the stage fell on deaf ears. It took a personal escort from none other than IFBB Pro Victor Martinez to get the lads back on stage.
After head judge Tim Kirby took the group through the symmetry and mandatory rounds it was the shredded Rob Crews who was declared the overall winner.
The Masters Division:
Former boxer Britt Britt moved from the squared circle on to the bodybuilding stage and won the masters division. Stephen Fidler took the teenage trophy unopposed but that didn’t deter him from giving a performance that would have made local legend Chilkoot Charlie proud.
The Teen Division:
The teenage figure winner, Zlata Suschik, has made considerable improvements in her physique as well as her presentation since her earlier NPC showing this year.
The Figure Divisions:
In the women’s figure Debbie Fowler took under 5’ 4” class and by evenings end the overall award too. Second place Charity Blanchett was a crowd favorite and with continued training should do well in the future.
The tall class winner, Heidi Shepard, displayed a confidence and maturity that belied her youth. Shepard is just one of the many untapped talents that Alaska has to offer. Look for her in the future.
The lone contestant in the women’s bodybuilding was Stephanie Figarelle. Figarelle has made remarkable improvements in her conditioning since the NPC Last Frontier show this past April. Figarelle also must get the award for biggest fan club of the show. It was downright bedlam every time she appeared on stage.
A New Novelty Award:
Not one to be bound by tradition, AlaskaFit Productions added new novelty award for the best “trophy presenter”. Four fashionably dressed young ladies paraded in front of the capacity crowd throughout the evening delivering trophies to the competitors. At evenings end Farrison judged the quartet by using the time tested “cheer of the crowd” meter. Paola Terry was all smiles as she was given her first place award.
After the night was done and calm was restored one could almost feel the Egan Center’s sigh of relief as Anchorage returned to normal. Normal, that is, until April 5th, 2008, when the NPC brings the muscle mob back bigger and brighter at the Last Frontier Championships.