The Female Physique Webzine/Gallery

July 25th & 26 Vegas Nevada

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By Bill Dobbins

The NPC USA Championships has been an important contest for some time, second only to the Nationals. However, in recent years it has evolved into an event. This is due to promoter Jon Lindsay opting to stage the contest in Las Vegas, which is a popular tourist and vacation destination and to do so on a regular basis. Even though the Nationals title is still the more prestigious, and all bodybuilding class winners in the competition are able to turn pro, rather than only the overall winner as here, many people plan their summers around a trip to Las Vegas for the USA with the aim of combining business and pleasure
Two things noteworthy about this years contest: there was no figure contest included and there were fewer fitness competitors than bodybuilders. It was amazing how many people – judges included – who expressed relief that they wouldn’t be sitting through round after round of quarter turns by women who are attractive but don’t have “physiques” based on any interesting degree of muscle.

The NPC has announced that, beginning in 2004, there will be no fitness at the Team Universe. The event will consist of the Team Universe Men's and Women's Bodybuilding and the National Figure Championships.

The lack of fitness competitors in the event – and some would say the overall relative lack of quality – can be attributed to the ongoing abandonment of fitness in the NPC by women who can’t live up to the level of gymnastics required by the current judging standards. At the local level, promoters are lucky to find any more than a bare handful of fitness competitors. Now this dearth of fitness women coming up through the pipeline has begun to manifest itself on the national level.

In the lightweight class, it was nice to see the always dynamic Lindsay Mulinazzi in the lineup. Lindsay is one of those competitors who has everything it takes to be spectacular – except enough muscle. You can have all the aesthetics in the world – nice lines, V-shape torso, pretty face – but this is bodybuilding and you have to have (or certainly should have) sufficient muscle and muscularity in order to compete at this level.
Lindsay finished second, which is certain an accomplishment, but lost out to winner Emery Miller on the scoresheets of 9 of the 11 judges in prejudging and 10 out of 11 in the finals scoring. Emery is small – she is a lightweight after all – but has a lot of muscularity and definition – and looked better in many of the comparison poses against Lindsay, especially in thigh muscularity. But Lindsay has such good genetics that Emery should put extra effort into gaining thickness and density in order to compete against her in the future – and, of course, Lindsay should work harder and getting in super shape.

This was probably the most competitive class, although the judges had no trouble selecting Maya Stone as the winner. Maya’s upper body was excellent, particularly her lats, but her legs were really outstanding. Many women have trouble achieving this kind of leg biceps development but Maya’s legs, front and back, were first rate. Maya’s posing was excellent to, which is always nice to see. Too many women are so busy “dancing” and trying to be feminine we don’t get to see their physiques. This was not the case with Maya’s presentation.

Now that the NPC is judging the finals, rather than having it be just a “show” as in the past, we can expect some last minute surprises in the scoring from time to time – and that’s what we got at the USA ’03. After prejudging, it turned out that Elena Seiple and Heather Hulsberg were tied at 12 points. After the finals posing Heather came out decidedly ahead for second place, due it would seem to her being a little more hard and muscular, since both she and Elena were aesthetic and in great shape. I guess you can’t complain if somebody wins on the basis of muscle – it is bodybuilding, after all. But there really was no reason to complain about any of the middleweights – as I said, it was an excellent, competitive class

An increasing number of competitors are leaving fitness for figure, where there is no requirement for gymnastics and which they think is less demanding in terms of physique (which is isn't, since it's almost all about genetics giving competitors little they can do to improve their scores). Many are disappointed by being ignored in figure lineups and because muscle and definition are discouraged to such a degree. What should they do? "Maybe they should just go into bodybuilding," says NPC judge Jim Rockell. Good advice. It's a shame women competitors don't hear this more often.

As so often happens in NPC bodybuilding for women, the heavyweights were the most interesting class at the NPC. After all, in most cases, it is the heavyweights that produce the overall winner and who have a chance to make a name for themselves in the pros – although introducing weight classes to IFBB pro competition has helped give more opportunities to the lighter class winners.
Two competitors everyone immediately focused on were Colette Nelson and Heather Policky (pronounced Pole-iss-key, for those who have wondered). Colette won this class in the past and has only been handicapped by her relative lack of leg mass. She told everyone she was working hard on bringing that weakness up – but did she? Heather, on the other hand, has such solid genetics she really doesn’t have any weaknesses. But she is a newcomer to the sport, only competing since 2000, and last year the judges seemed to think she needed a lot more refinement and polish.

Neither of these women turned out to be the big story of the contest. Colette has indeed made progress in her legs and her posing was exciting and entertaining but she still needs more to attain that () fullness of shape. And it seemed she was in somewhat better shape at last year’s contest. Even so she managed a second place finish. Heather has made aesthetic gains – her hair, make-up and overall appearance were much improved, for example – but she was also not in her best shape at the USA (due, she admitted, to personal problems that interfered with her contest preparation).

But the really impressive competitor on stage in the heavyweight class was Bonny Priest. Talk about a complete, aesthetic package! Bonny’s definition, proportion, muscularity and overall symmetry (tiny waist, for example) were above criticism. In addition, she has a pretty face, a nice personality and seemed to relate well to the judges and audience. So it was no surprise that Bonny won the overall and it will come as no surprise if she turns out to be an immediate threat in the pro ranks
By the way, it was good to see Annie Rivieccio place third in her class. Annie has been a first-rate competitor in the NPC for many years, with a solid almost-pro level physique. You have the feeling she could really be a top competitor if she were more ambitious and put winning above everything else – including her horses.

The overall wasn’t much of a contest and nobody thought it would be. The judges began passing over their scoresheets almost as soon as the three class winners were brought out on stage. No disrespect to the other competitors, but Bonny Priest was that obviously good. Look for her soon in an IFBB pro contest near you.

The three classes of fitness women at the USA 2003 were good, although perhaps not super exciting. That is, they were attractive, in good shape and their routines were fine. But this was not a lineup where you’d expect a whole new group of top pros to emerge, even though the NPC hands out pro cards to fitness competitors as if they were tickets to “The View.”

The three class winners were
Short: Kasey Watts
Medium: Angela Semsch
Tall: Lea Waide

Of these, only Kasey was what you’d call “typical” of NPC fitness. She has a pretty face, nice physique, and enough muscle so you know she trains. She also won the performance round. Angela has a nice body and a beauty face as well, but doesn’t have that “girl gymnast” look that characterizes so many NPC fitness winners. Not surprisingly, her performance was scored 4th in her class. Lea, who is tall and leggy and looks more like a dancer than a gymnast – because that’s what she is.

But it’s interesting that Lea won the performance round doing a dance-based routine with no tumbling involved. Given the degree fitness seems to be on the wane, nonetheless its fascinating to see that a fitness competitor can get high scores for a routine without doing very much gymnastics. Why hasn’t this been happening all along? Why haven’t we seen it happen more often? And if this is to be the regular policy of the NPC, why haven’t they told anyone?

Thanks so much for what you wrote about me on your site! I really appreciate the publicity and the pictures are awesome! I did notice that you said my "primary performance skill is dance" when in actuality it is strength skills. I took out all the dancing in my routine (except for transition elements) and replaced it with strength moves, jumps, and leaps. It probably seems dance-like to you because I am a dancer so everything flows from one move to another, but if you really take notice you'll see that my primary focus is strength moves...all of which are on the advanced level with competitors like Stacy and Bridgette. This is why I feel I do well in the routine round (and the reason judges have expressed to me) b/c in every way EXCEPT tumbling, my routine is as advanced as the top pros.

And I thought you might be interested to know that I can tumble...and I used to put it in my routine but I just found that the judges are more impressed with a strength move they've never seen than they are a back flip they've seen 100 girls do. So I just took out all the tumbling! It was hurting my body too much anyway!

Lea Waide wasn’t the only example of a non-gymnast receiving a high score for her routine. Vickie Newton was 9th in the heavyweight class but looks so much like a (good) bodybuilder that she no doubt would have placed a lot lower except for a super entertaining routine which, again, had no tumbling in it. Vickie – who reminded me a bit of Lesa Lewis (of whom she had never heard) was given 4th for her routine, ahead of several accomplished gymnasts.

What is this woman doing in fitness?

So the way the NPC (and the IFBB) structures its competition continues to be a puzzle. In general, women who aren’t gymnasts can’t succeed in fitness. But women with muscles – even smaller and less developed fitness-level muscles – are not doing well in figure. So if you’re a woman who trains hard in the gym and wants to do something competitive in the NPC you either have to be a bodybuilder (which many do not want to be, mostly due to negative publicity generated by the federations themselves) or nothing. The NPC says it wants to encourage less extreme levels of female muscle but they are doing away with the only competitive arena in which such a thing has been possible.

Meanwhile, figure is becoming more and more of a beauty contest and a bore – at least in terms of watching endless numbers of women doing quarter turns on stage; the women themselves are gorgeous and far from boring. What will be interesting is if fitness goes away and, over time, as has happened over and over in the past, the figure women start to gradually get more muscular. Once again the NPC will find itself being in the position of having to penalize competitors for having muscle. If you don’t learn from history, you are doomed to repeat it.







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