The Shawn Ray Colorado Pro/Am 2007 was bigger and more attended than ever before. I had the honor of being assigned to the show by Jim Manion and Steve Stone from the IFBB/NPC. You couldn't have asked for three more beautiful days in Denver.
Clear skies and 70's temperature highlighted the weekend and offered the host city's inhabitants a gift of peace from their well known pounding winter weather. Everyone in every direction was friendly and eager to offer help.
The Denver, Hyatt Convention Center:
The Denver, Hyatt Convention Center, host hotel is one of the best that I have stayed in. Their rooms are clean and even the elevators have plasma screens with calming scenic video playing on them. It helps relax me from the hectic schedule that was involved with my weekend.
The gym at the Hyatt is incredible and open 24 hours and also comes included with your room charge. Now it certainly isn't likely associated with some free weight facilities, but it is loaded with great cardio equipment and sports equipment and a view of the mountain range.
The expo was well organized and well ran and if you enjoy the Arnold Fitness Expo, but don't like the masses of people then this might just be your venue. Promoters Shawn Ray and Jeff Taylor have moved the entire expo to a large hall to achieve the individual unit of attendance from the show. This worked for the good and bad.
Shawn explained that he intends to allow staging of the show in the expo for the next year and it will be included in the price of admission. He intends to do this to place the physique competitions along side of the other events and it will also serve to allow more booth traffic. It is a smart idea and will likely make those attending happier with less travel between venues.
The promoters will benefit due to the likely increased traffic at the booths. Shawn and Jeff also are likely to include more events local to the Denver area, such as; rock climbing competitions and maybe some additional outdoor events.
The growth of the show has mandated the formation of committees and those interested in volunteering in assisting for the weekend should contact Jeff or Shawn with their interest.
Volunteering for an event like this has lots of benefits. Community service offers personal satisfaction with many challenges. If you are organized, dependable, and a driven person, then you will likely appreciate the response that is available from giving of your time and talents.
The event has several volunteers already who make the weekend run smoothly, but as the event grows, so will the need for more help. My thanks to many of those local people who helped me specifically and did so much for the success of the weekend. They do it because they love the sport and it never stops amazing me; that individuals like, "Vinnie" who also works for the IFBB/NPC pours so much of himself into the weekend.
When something goes wrong, he springs to action and takes it personally and fixes it. IFBB pro Chris Bongiovanni who is a bodybuilder herself, runs the stage and handles athletes just like she would want to be treated. Just like a competitor, she becomes annoyed with delays and wasted time and works very hard to organize meetings and at getting the show running smoothly.
It is individuals like this who make shows like this run so well and again that local support from the volunteers is the essential leg that everyone stands on.
The show ran smoothly and with the exception of some minor announcing errors, but for the most part it was seamless. Mixing an amateur show with a pro show offers benefits and liabilities. It makes the obviously visible step from the tempo of the show when the switch is made to the pro level and more-so in men's bodybuilding.
When the "Chic" takes the microphone, the whole tone obviously changes and look out, because the personality of bodybuilding is on the scene. At one point the music cut out on one of the competitors and Bob started singing, "Get off the Stage, get off the stage" - The crowd went wild and Kai Greene, who eventually won the competition yielded to the suggestions of the obviously more intense and experienced "Chic," who is always there to save the day.
The new changes with the comparisons of the pros proves to be taxing to the competitors, but with some insight, head judge, Sandy Williamson, offered a staging that could leave no competitor with the attitude that they didn't obtain enough stage time. If you left that stage, you knew that you had a good look by all the judges.
Is it taxing? Yes, and this is also called professional bodybuilding, so no whining, and realize now that it is a good reason to do your practice posing for say... an hour or so - everyday. I can only estimate that each competitor lost a few pounds of water, since I went through more towels than the Hyatt that day drying them off, while on stage.
Bodybuilding is a tough sport and given the physical demands of the event, it isn't a sport for the week; either physically or mentally. Competitors like Branch Warren know that it is difficult to stay in shape from week to week, while traveling from show to show.
Click Image To Enlarge.
View More Pics Of Branch Warren Here.
An hour or several minutes can mean a world of change to someone at that level of conditioning. Talking to Branch back stage, he was happy to move onto the next venue with an understanding of the trials and difficulty of peaking for each event.
Men's Pro Bodybuilding
Kai Greene was simply amazing and drove the message home that his name would be carved on that overall trophy. His posing is amazing and although he can't see it, all the competitors are pressed up to the curtains like kids at Christmas time, straining to spy on the loads of packages under the tree.
Everyone feels that energy from his performance and his routines and some can only wonder how that big man can move like that. I am definitely offering my positive opinion to Jim Lorimer, co-promoter of the Arnold Classic that Kai Green should be on the list of invited IFBB pro men.
After the cameras were off and most visitors had left the theater and only a few light bulbs where finished snapping of Kai and his trophy haul, it finally hit him. In the arms of his training partner, he sat weeping from all his efforts and the bounty of his success.
It is at that point you realize what this sport is really about to some people. To throw it all out there on the line and it is a gamble of your life and to make it, is just sometimes too much to bear. In the light of his success that night, winning the viewers challenge and also the judge's vote, he took it all home.
To witness his emotional bliss was a moment that capped the whole weekend. He lost nothing at his display, but only gained the admiration of so many who were in attendance and gained many new fans and re-established several backers.
1. Kai Greene.
Windows Media (21.1 MB)
Women's Pro Figure
On the woman's pro figure side Valerie Waugaman just stood there and captured everyone's heart and eyes. She has so much stage presences it is freaky. When she stands on the stage, she demands your attention and it is a natural gift.
To know her personally as I do, she isn't a show boat person. I remember helping Val with one of her first photo shoots and she was so lost as to what to wear and what to do. Obviously she is a self made woman and although life gets bumpy for her from time to time, she is a fighter as well.
To define her, words like; beauty, graceful, sultry and Goddess-like, comes to mind. Don't just take my word for it, Terry Goodlad, who is one of the top photographers of fit women in the world, agrees and he just loves to shoot photos of her. Of course she won, so that kind of proves my point too. Her lines are amazing.
Amateur Men & Women
On the amateur side, the men's pro offered a great line up of competitors who battled it out for the ability to qualify for the national level NPC competitions. The line up was stacked and the heavyweights and super-heavyweights looked more like they were ready for the pros than just the national level.
When it was all said and done, the best of the best was Julian Bonner. Head judge Lee Thompson kept it all smooth and simple. It is nice to see the top five look like the top five.
Women's bodybuilding was represented, but as one competitor said, "We are dinosaurs and we are going extinct. Hopefully, the public will understand the female quest for their own physique level and they will gain their respect for their spot on the stage.
In the end the lightweight was more symmetrical and won the day. Roseanne Desmarais, put her mark and is on her way to the nationals. She cut down the big tree of the other classes and carved her name in the books.
For More Pics Of The Women Here.
The amateur figure produced a local champion and the judges were right on the money this time. She is new, she is in great shape and she has a great sassy/sexy look that will hit the national level. Sara works at the one of the local specialty clothing stores that has some of the best yoga sport wear available today.
I started talking to Sara Hurrle a few months ago about competing and she was obviously timid about competing, but hopefully she will continue in her quest for titles. She was nervous on stage and had that "shaking leg syndrome," but after a few calming words she tied it all together, put in some of her yoga training and brought it all home.
So stop by the Lululemon store in Cherry Creek and say hi. I am sure she will be still smiling when you get there.
So all in all, the show has grown and it is quickly becoming yet another main event on the "must see" events of the year. Denver has a lot to offer and the city is so clean and beautiful, just like the people.
Make your calendar adjustments so you can attend next year. I'll be there and you can even talk to me, unlike at the Olympia and the Arnold. Better than me, is the greeting that Shawn Ray and Jeff Taylor will offer you.