Leaving Las Vegas

/ Posted 09.27.2010

Okay, already left. Sunday afternoon, as a matter of fact. But, isn’t the headline cute? On the flight home a young man, sitting one row in front of me, smiled when we were getting ready to file off the plane after landing at the Bob Hope Airport (Burbank), and said, “The Swami did it again!”

Glad you noticed, fella. ‘Cause Dave Palumbo and Chris Aceto acted like I needed a one way ticket to a rubber room when, on the prejudging wrap on Friday night, I had the gall to say my pick, Jay Cutler, should be in front despite the mad challenge by Phil Heath. And that Kai Greene wasn’t in shape…20 pounds too heavy.

In the end, of course, who was correct? By the way, how about my selection of Erin Stern two month’s out to dethrone last year’s new Figure champ, Nicole Wilkins Lee? To me, Stern has the bod that is the postage stamp for Figure. Tall, sleek and athletic looking, with wheels from heaven. Of course, I also tabbed Kevin English to repeat in the 202 and under competition. Since Kev was the favorite going in, not much credit deserved there. BUT, he did have to best, once again, the great David Henry, who is always in wonderful shape.

On the subject of prognostications, the BONEHEAD PICK OF THE YEAR award is cemented in the hands of Ron (Yogi) Avidan. First off, he (and his partner in crime, Isaac (Hardbody) Hinds, somehow put last year’s Mr. Olympia in FOURTH place in the prediction video done two months out at the USA Championships.

Then, to top it off, Avidan’s selection to take the Sandow from Jay, Kai Greene, ended up in SEVENTH place. At least Hinds’ pick of Heath to win it all was a solid one after Phil’s best ever performance. To be fair, Yogi did have Heath in second and was one of a very few who put Branch Warren as high as third, so he does deserve some props.

Other weekend honors:

IN YOUR FACE AWARD: Cutler, for shutting up all his naysayers (again), with a near unanimous victory for win number four. This, despite being so dehydrated at the prejudging that Jay literally had to be helped to his car in the parking lot. If there was any doubt regarding Jay’s dominance, that was squashed at the finals where he showed up 15% better than Friday night. The Ultimate Beef is still the Chief.

CONSISTENCY AWARD: Heath, for following up a great showing at the 2010 Arnold Classic, where he lost a highly disputed decision to Greene, with another sublime performance at the Olympia. Where are the people who claim you can’t peak twice in the same season?

MOST IMPROVED: Dennis Wolf. I didn’t have the big guy from Germany (now living in Vegas) in my top 10 after finishing out of the top 15 last year and coming back with a not-so-impressive third place finish at the 2010 New York Pro. Wolf bounced back with a look that was close to his top five physique in ‘06 and ‘07 to deserve this honor.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: (tie) Kai Greene and Roelly Winklaar. Greene was the pick of many to dethrone Jay, but was way off at the prejudging to even be considered for a top five finish. However, he did look vastly improved on Saturday night, and many felt, me included, he should have moved past Ronny Rockel (6th) and Wolf in the final standings.

I had Winklaar in the top 8 after looking great at the Arnold and then dominating the New York Pro. But, Roelly was way off in Vegas (finishing 14th) and will have to prove in the coming year he still has what it takes to be a top contender. I say he does.

COMEBACK KID: Hidetada Yamagishi. I never thought Hide would even get on stage at the Orleans Arena after suffering a leg injury a couple of months back. But, not only was Hide there, he made it back into the top 10 to finish off a terrific year.

BEST EVER AWARD: Johnnie Jackson. No pre-contest hype for last year’s “World’s Strongest Bodybuilder” winner, but I feel Johnnie could have been in his all-time best condition, finishing in a tie with Dennis James for 11th.

BEST POSER: Marcus Haley. Haley always gives a great performance in the round that isn’t scored anymore. I appreciate his efforts to entertain despite that; at least you win something in my eyes, Marcus.

GOOD-BYE AWARD: Dennis James, who announced on stage the Olympia was his final show. Dennis the Menace has had a great career after winning the USA back in ’98. Thanks for all the great moments on stage Dennis, you should be proud of what you’ve accomplished.

I’m tired (was back teaching class Monday am and Monday pm), so that’s it for now. But, as that big dude once said, I’ll be back.”

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