A controversial decision at the Mr. Olympia, a few conversations with IFBB pros and NPC athletes along with lots of free samples at the Expo plus an inconvenient self tour of the Luxor trying to find my room, added up to the best Olympia weekend yet.
The past few years I attended the Olympia, I needed to make some whirlwind trips from southern California to Vegas and back. This was due mostly to my work schedule. This year, however, I was able to spend a little more time in Vegas and didn't have to watch the clock as much and didn't keep thinking I needed to hurry back.
My buddy, Mike Harris, and I again made our wives "Olympia Widows" for the weekend and headed for Vegas on Friday morning. We had it planned out; get to the Expo by about 2:00-2:30 p.m., check in with Will at the Bodybuilding.com booth, hang out at the Expo for about an hour and then head over to the Luxor and check in and then, finally, make our way over to the Orleans Arena for the prejudging.
Well, it started it out good. I checked in with Will at the Expo and he handed me my Bodybuilding.com "Staff" baseball jersey, which I immediately put on, and I walked around the Expo for about an hour. I was planning on attending the next day again so I was, for the most part, just scoping things out to see where I would spend more time the next day.
I gladly accepted a few samples as I walked past some of the booths. Actually, there weren't many samples being handed out. I assumed most vendors were saving up their supplies for Saturday, which would be the day with the largest attendance.
One of the highlights at the Expo on Friday was getting a chance to see Michael Lockett, the new NPC star who won the Jr. Nationals this spring and the Team Universe last fall.
I was shocked at his size for being a natural athlete. Michael was huge and ripped with unbelievable vascularity in his "offseason" condition. He plans on doing the USA next year and I predict he'll do very well and possibly get his pro card. (He could have already applied for it with his Team Universe win like Kai Greene did, but he's chosen to stay in the amateur ranks a little while longer.)
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Michael Lockett At The Jr. Nationals.
View More Pics Of Michael Lockett Here.
Mike had walked over to the BSN booth to replenish his supply of CellMass and True-Mass. He came back with a container of each and was hoping for one of their red t-shirts, but apparently the boss of the booth had given word that no more shirts were to be given out on Friday.
One of the friendly workers, however, tucked a shirt away for Mike and gave him it to him the next day. It might have been just a t-shirt, but little things like that give companies repeat customers.
I walked from booth to booth asking several IFBB pros who they thought would win the Mr. Olympia. Jay Cutler was the overwhelming vote from pros like Branch Warren, Joel Stubbs and several others. Branch was the most confident. He had no doubts that Jay would take Olympia number two. Team MuscleTech sticks together!
After about an hour at the Expo we decided to head over to the Luxor to check in and possibly relax and grab a bite to eat before the prejudging. The line wasn't too long at the Luxor's registration desk and we headed up to our room on the seventh floor.
After entering the room we discovered it wasn't the room that Mike had reserved so Mike called down to get things adjusted. To make a long story short we had to go back downstairs (hauling our bags again) and wait in line at the registration desk again and wait for a supervisor, which took WAY too long.
It ended up being about 6:30 p.m. before things were settled and we didn't have time to go back up to the new room or eat. Judging started at 7:00 p.m. So I had to haul all my gear back through the casino and across the parking structure to our car to only to sit in traffic in the one-mile stretch to the Orleans Arena. We finally made it to the Arena just as the judging started.
I thought the pre-judging was the best I had seen. It was very close and there was not a clear-cut winner like the years when Ronnie dominated the moment he stepped on stage. Cutler was huge, but was a little soft. His coloring was way too dark also. You couldn't see him. He was too dark last year too and this year's lighting problems only accentuated his coloring problem.
Victor was in fantastic condition and I thought he was good enough to upset the current champ. Ronnie looked better than I thought he would and his color seemed too dark at the judging also. Wolf made his presence known on the Olympia stage like no one else.
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Cutler, Coleman, Martinez & Wolf.
View More Pics From The 2007 Olympia Men's Prejudging Here.
After the judging was complete we headed back to the hotel so I could write the judging review and send it over to Will to format and post on our web site. We arrived back at the Luxor at 10:00 p.m.
Unsure of where our room was located in the pyramid-shaped structure, we stopped by the registration to get directions. She sent us down the hall to one of the inclinators and that transported us to a section of the second floor that didn't connect to our room. What's worse is that we couldn't get back on the inclinator we came up on because it wouldn't open and it now was marked for maintenance and not guests, but it wasn't marked that way on the way up. Go figure.
After walking around a winding hallway we finally found an elevator that brought us back down to the lobby. Here we saw two employees who told us that the second floor is the only floor that doesn't connect and we needed to go up to the third floor and then go back down to the second floor. Go figure.
So we go up to the third floor to try and make our way back down to the second floor and then we walk for a long stretch on the third floor.
Mike, who was pretty much fed up at this point, leans over the balcony and yells down to one of the workers in the lobby and asks for direction. He doesn't speak English and Mike throws his map down to him out of frustration and hopes he'll see the room number we're trying to get to. It doesn't work.
We head back to the elevator that we came up on and run into a cleaning lady. She tells us we're really close to our room and only need to go back down to the second floor. Back into the elevator we go and down to the second floor. The room number signs on the second floor do not list our room. By this time it's 10:45 p.m. and I really need to get my article started (and to unload my luggage, which I'm hauling around).
"Let's go back down to the lobby," Mike told me. "We'll start over." Off we went down to the lobby again hauling our bags and hungrier than a wolf because, except for a few protein bar samples at the Expo, we hadn't eaten since lunch.
Mike decided to head into the casino and asked directions from one of the security guards. He explains that we've already asked four workers how to get to our room and not one has given us correct information. She assured us she'd get us to our room. That lady new what she was talking about too and she told us exactly how to get to our room. And it was easy - once we knew the real way to get there!
The Search For Wi-Fi:
By this time it's almost 11:00 p.m. and I immediately start typing away. By about 12:45 a.m. I had completed the article and I was ready to send it off - if I could gain Internet access. The room didn't have Wi-Fi. And there wasn't a place to plug my computer into the wall. I grabbed my iBook and headed out in search of Wi-Fi.
My first thought was Starbucks. "They'll have it," I thought. I went down to the first floor and asked the girl at Starbucks if they had Wi-Fi. She said no and I might be able to gain access if I paid for it and went over to the Luxor Business Center. Fine. I walked a good distance over to the Business Center. They were open 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.
On my way back, I asked another Luxor worker where I could find Wi-Fi for my laptop. He said, "That store over there... They might have some you could buy." I went away thinking to myself, "Yeah, I'll go see if I can by a cup of Wi-Fi in that store over there!"
In my frustration I went back to the Starbucks, opened my laptop and waited to see if I could connect. Lo and behold! I did. So I finally sent my article off and was going to head up to the room, but I saw a guy with his wife at the counter and he had about 20-inch guns.
I figured he had been to the judging and thought I'd strike up a conversation. He hadn't been to the judging, but was planning on going to the finals on Saturday. He was from Pittsburgh and was a huge Ronnie fan. He hoped I was wrong about my prediction for Ronnie taking fourth or fifth place.
The next day we went to the Luxor's Pharaoh's Feast Buffet for breakfast and then headed back over to the Expo. I had a few goals for the Expo. One was to get my photo taken with Cutler and any other Mr. Olympias that might be walking around. Jay happened to be at the MuscleTech booth and left a few minutes after I got my photo with him - even if it was a little blurry.
My theory proved to be correct as the vendors at the Expo were much more generous in their handouts on Saturday. I got quite a few bottles of Tight and EndoRush. Mike was having great fun accepting every handout he could find and then cramming them in my bags. This was his way of getting me back for me making fun of him carrying all his stuff around last year and including it in my article.
He noticed I bought a few bottles of RedLine RTD so that gave him even more incentive to load me up. He weighted me down really good, so I'd say we're even now.
Another goal was to make a few contacts for future interview articles. I spoke with Dave Hawk, Jr. and told him I was a big fan of his dad back in the day and I talked with the young Dave about his career. He had just recently taken 16th in the light heavies at the North American. Even though David Robson had done an article recently on him, I told him I'd contact him in the future for another article.
I also spoke with Karen Mullarkey. She was at the Whey Up booth, which was right next to the Schiek booth where Mike was busy looking into some knee wraps. (He's been squatting over 400 for reps lately and needed some extra support for his knees.) Karen recently turned pro at the Team Universe this year and is planning on making her pro debut this November. She was a former field hockey athlete and decided to try training for a different sport.
I was hoping to find a shirt for casual wear that wasn't another t-shirt, tank or stretch shirt. The Max Muscle booth had a few button-down shirts hanging up in the back. I asked the price and they were only $25. They have a slight taper to them and they don't fit like a tent around the waist as most shirts do these days. I couldn't refuse. I should have bought a couple of them. Oh well, I guess I just have to go back next year and get another one.
We hung around the Expo for a couple hours and then headed back to the Luxor to chill out for a while before the finals. Mike went out for a while and I ended up taking a nap and was all rested up for the big showdown on Saturday evening.
The finals show was great. Ronnie's farewell speech was touching and it made me realize that a new era of bodybuilding is on the rise. I got the same feeling when Lee Haney retired back in 1991.
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View More Pics Of Ronnie Coleman Here.
As you might have read in my finals review article, I didn't exactly agree with the way the judges called it. As much as I like Cutler, I thought he was off and Martinez should have edged him out. Wolf should have placed higher also.
After the show, it was entertaining to watch the post-show interviews of the competitors with Flex Wheeler and Dave Palumbo, which were being conducted right outside the exit of the Orleans Arena. They did the interviews on both Friday and Saturday nights.
After watching the interviews and interacting with the crowd a few minutes it was time to head back to the Luxor and grab something to eat. A Philly steak and cheese sandwich was in order.
My Olympia Weekend drew to a close as we headed back the next morning back to southern California. When I arrived home, my wife and kids greeted me at the door. I carried in my three bags of Expo goodies and set them on the living room floor. I then grabbed each bag and proceeded to dump the contents out onto the carpet to show my family the haul I had made.
My kids started laughing because they said, "This is like Dad's Halloween!" My wife, Rosemarie, smiled, grabbed the camera and said, "You need a picture of this for your article." Ah, it was good to be home, but I can't wait for next Halloween, I mean Olympia Weekend.