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The 2005 Arnold Classic: An Athlete's Perspective.

This interview with Susan Niederhauser gives an athlete's perspective on the 2005 Arnold Classic. Find out what she thought of the show, what she did while she was there and how she feels about the results.

The 2005 Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic (ASC) has been variously described as the best ever, and the new standard in professional bodybuilding competition. The quality of the bodybuilding and fitness competitors physiques is thought to have improved as has the variety of additional athletic events ( martial arts, table tennis and yoga to name three) and size of the popular Expo.

Speaking of competitor quality, winner of the men's event was Dexter "The Blade" Jackson who narrowly beat an exceptionally well conditioned Chris Cormier. The Figure International title went to Jenny Lynn, Fitness International to Jen Henderschott and Yaxeni Oriquen was awarded the heavyweight and overall women's bodybuilding title. The great Arnold himself made an appearance to hand out prizes to the winners and to present fitness legend Jack LaLanne with a lifetime achievement award.

The 2005 ASC has been previewed, reviewed and debated by a wide number of fans and authorities, but comparatively little has been heard publicly from the actual competitors. One competitor who enjoyed the ASC immensely, and would love to take part in the next one, is women's lightweight competitor Susanne Niederhauser. Susanne, who came 4th in her division, agrees with many that the Arnold has grown significantly in the last five-years alone. I recently spoke to her about the 2005 ASC specifically, and her current competitive plans.

Susan Niederhauser

[ Q ] Is this the first Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic (ASC) you have been to? What impressed you most about it?

    In 2000 I was there to watch the ASC. This year was my first time there as a competitor. I think I don't need to write that I enjoyed competing more than watching.

    I really was impressed how much the ASC grew in the past 5 years. So many visitors, so many athletes and the expo is also much bigger than in 2000.

[ Q ] Did you take part in the expo in any way? Did you have time to look around the expo? If so, what interested you most?

    I visited the expo on Saturday but like I mentioned we didn't stay there very long. It was just too crowded. I bought some tanning lotion and looked around a bit for nutrition supplements.

    But having been to a lot of expos during my bodybuilding career there was nothing new for me.

The Escalators Leading Into The Expo Give An Idea Of Crowd Size

[ Q ] As a competitor, what is it about the ASC that makes it such a great contest?

    It's very, very well organized and as an athlete you have the feeling that you are an important part of it. I have been to competitions where I didn't have that feeling.

    There are thousands of people in the audience which gives you a great feeling to pose on the stage. It's more fun. I loved it.

[ Q ] How well did you do at this years ASC? Did you surpass your expectations and will you be back to compete in it again next year? What is your next bodybuilding goal?

    I got 4th place in the lightweights and I'm happy with it. I got the invitation five weeks before the ASC and I think that with such a short preparation time I really did a good job.

    If I get the chance to compete again of course I will be back. About my next goals I'm not sure yet. I'm quite motivated and maybe I will do one of the contests in September.

    I'm going to compete a little bit bigger and leaner next time.

[ Q ] Describe your 2005 ASC experience from beginning to end. What was the most enjoyable moment for you? Were there any sad moments?

    Beside the really cold weather I enjoyed every minute there. When we arrived on Tuesday it snowed and it was freezing cold. We were surprised about the nice, big hotel suites where we stayed.

    Our first 2 days we just spent shopping and relaxing. After the weigh-in on Thursday evening we got a ride to the Greater Columbus Convention Center and Veterans Memorial Auditorium to see the dressing rooms, pump-up areas and of course the stage. This was one of the things about the organization which I really appreciated. At this point I want to express to the organizers my thanks and congratulations for a great show. You really did an awesome job.

    Friday was the women's day, the most important day for me of course, and for sure the most enjoyable day. I really love to do the comparisons and I enjoyed every minute of it. I think one of my best moments was when I was a part of the first call-out. I really liked the stage decoration at the finals and it's a really great moment when you get the chance to present all the work you have done in front of such a big audience.

    Susan (Left) On Stage At The 2005 Arnold Classic

    Another big moment is when the competition is done and you are happy with your place and satisfied with yourself. You are feeling so at ease. So relaxed.

    On Saturday we went to the expo but we didn't stay long. In the evening we watched the men's finals. It's an awesome feeling to watch the athletes when you competed on the same stage the day before. Afterwards we were at the buffet/dance/party. Actually this is the only part which I think the organizers could do better. In my opinion they could have spent a little more money to make it more in keeping with the rest of the event.

    Anyway, on Sunday we'd had enough of bodybuilding so we drove to a shopping mall about seven miles away to relax with shopping and watching a movie in the theatre there. Unfortunately we had to fly back on Monday.

    No sad moments at all.

[ Q ] Were you able to watch other parts of the show? In your view has the quality of the competitors physiques improved from previous years?

    I watched the men's finals. In my opinion the men have improved their physiques. Also I think most of the women came bigger than in previous competitions. I don't think that the women paid attention to the 20% softer rule.

    The Men Onstage At The 2005 Arnold Classic

    Note: the 20% softer rule is a mandate for a softer, less muscular, physique in response to the increasingly muscular physiques shown by female bodybuilding competitors. The IFBB have requested that female competitors reduce their muscularity by a factor of 20% in the hope of promoting aesthetics and health, rather than extreme muscularity.

[ Q ] Who were you picking to win the men's and women's overall titles? Did you agree with the results?

    I completely agreed with Dexter's first place.

Should Dexter Have Won The 2005 Arnold?

Yes - He Was By Far The Best.
No - Chris Cormier Should Have Won.
No - Gustavo Badell Should Have Won.
No - Somebody Else Should Have Won.

    For the women, I'm sorry, I can't say. I didn't see it from the audience's point of view and I think to be fair you have to see it from that perspective - and I don't dare judge from photographs because they can be deceptive sometimes.

[ Q ] Why do you think the ASC has gained so much publicity in recent years?

    Firstly, it's the name "Arnold Schwarzenegger" that makes it a special event. Secondly, I think it's because the show is well organized. Bodybuilders and fans of bodybuilding can see the top athletes and they have the biggest expo there.

    It's like paradise for people like us, isn't it? Another reason is that there are a lot of different kinds of sport on display, so there is a broader audience not all of which is involved with bodybuilding.

[ Q ] How would you compare the ASC to other pro shows?

    Tough question!! Actually I have competed at 4 pro shows up to now and I liked all of them. What makes the ASC special to me is that it's so hard to get an invitation so to get the invitation is a win in itself. For me, it's on a par with the Olympia weekend.

[ Q ] What do you think about Arnold's continued involvement in pro bodybuilding. How does he represent the sport in your view?

    I really appreciate that he still talks in a good way about our sport and when you listen to him you can see he still loves bodybuilding. If one person can make our sport more widely known and popular then it's Arnold.

Arnold Schwarzenegger: A Tribute To A Great Champion.
No other bodybuilder in the history of the sport has made the same impact. Indeed, Arnold Schwarzenegger remains the greatest...
[ Click here to learn more. ]

[ Q ] Any final thoughts on the 2005 ASC?

    I want to thank all the people who cheered for me and motivated me with their kind words. Thank you! I hope to get an invitation again next year and to get placed higher. Also, I'm looking forward to seeing again all the great people I met this year.