LAS VEGAS—Adela Garcia-Friedmansky won the '04 IFBB Fitness Olympia title with a spirited matador-themed routine and the best darned body onstage at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on October 29, ending a year of speculation about who would replace retiring champ Susie Curry as queen of the sport. The 24-point margin of victory AGF earned here'following her squeak-by win over '03 Fitness O runner-up Kelly Ryan at the Ms. International last winter'left no doubt. It was Adela all the way.
The much-anticipated rematch between Garcia-Friedmansky and Ryan was lost in the physique rounds. AGF, displaying her customary crispness over excellent symmetry and proportion, aced them both. Flyin' Ryan, who's been the runner-up at this shindig four times in the past five years, mostly to Curry, won the routine rounds hands down, but she was not in her best shape, and the final scores weren't even close. Ryan finished not second but third thanks to the vastly improved physique numbers earned by Columbus comet Jen Hendershott, who catapulted into the runner-up slot all the way from fifth last year.
Tracey Greenwood, now billing herself as Greenwood-Krakowiak, landed in fourth despite a shoulder injury that almost kept her from competing. As the show was a top-five qualifier for the '05 Olympia, that should take some of the pressure off. Kim Klein, 11th in 2003, continued the upward trajectory she's been on all year by picking up the last of the top-five automatic qualifications.
Here's the lowdown on the dozen plus two of pro fitness' finest who came to quarter-turn, twist and tumble at the Mandalay Bay: The physiques. AGF and TGK were not alone in the first callout of both body rounds, but the judges quickly retired them from having to do any more quarter-turns; so it was no big surprise that they earned unanimous scores in first and second, respectively. Hendershott's slimmed muscle and better lines represented the biggest transformation in the lineup. Word is the judges thought that she'd improved even from her personal-best presentation three weeks before at the Show of Strength, where she took third overall. Here she was third in the two-piece round and fifth in the one-piece, her best numbers ever at the O.
Klein's numbers were even better. The judges just love her symmetry, particularly the shoulder-to-waist ratio. I love it that they reward her even though she doesn't have quite the degree of conditioning some of the women display. When you subtotal the physique scores, she had the third-best body in the bunch, with Julie Palmer, her own fine proportions nicely conditioned, not far behind.
The routines. I can't say I agree with the exact order in which the 45-second mandatory fitness routines were placed'Ryan, Hendershott, AGF, Stacy Hylton and Klein were first through fifth'but those five ladies did give the strongest performances. As for the long routines, I must divulge that I really couldn't see them. Though I had an excellent seat in the press pit, ironically, the height of the Mandalay Bay Events Center stage and the line of vision from our ground-floor location conspired to keep the women out of view at the finals of all three women's shows. (A platform eliminated the problem at the Mr. O, but that wouldn't have been possible here because of the fitness routines.) Having to depend on three huge video screens that were flashing the onstage action from different angles, I could only gather impressions of the performances. That said'
You'd never have known that Ryan was flyin' with a torn calf muscle. Her Janet Jackson routine was letter perfect'not as much aerial action as usual, but the judges didn't seem to mind. They scored her unanimously in first.
Hendershott chose some clever nun-sense that started with the Lord's Pray and Jen in a habit and ended with her rocking out with some splits, holds and wiggles. The panel liked her second best, unanimously, with AGF just a couple of points behind her in third. I'm not sure I agree with that last call'it wasn't my favorite of Adela's recent routines'but, as I said, I couldn't actually see it. Klein, who was scored just three points behind Adela, gave a top-notch performance with her elegant style of tumbling, and an excellent high-energy effort by Hylton was judged fifth best.
The panel placed my favorite routine, performed by Klaudia Kinska, sixth. Avoiding the hip-hop rhythms so pervasive at fitness events, Kinska tossed off a Charleston, doing her strength moves on a chair and making the Events Center rafters ring with a rousing'and cleverly choreographed'rendition of 'They Both Reached for the Gun' from Chicago.
Tanji Johnson's flying Catwoman routine was a few points behind Kinska, followed by Mindi O'Brien, the much-touted Canadian rookie who knocked their sports socks off at the Southwest USA Pro Cup last summer. O'Brien made a strong impression in her Olympia debut and will be even stronger when she becomes competitive in the mandatory strength moves. ALL It was the most injury-plagued Fitness O ever. In addition to Ryan's calf and Greenwood's shoulder, Stacy Simons sprained an ankle at the judging'although not onstage'and still performed at the finals. Olympia rookie Teri Mooney was not so lucky and had to leave the stage with a pulled hamstring'and a TV camera following her'during the two-minute routines.
Along with the other two women's Olympia events, this contest was broadcast on pay-per-view TV. The numbers should be interesting; however, since the folks putting on the show didn't do much advance publicity for it'not nearly as much as the hype for the broadcast of the Mr. O'I'm not expecting they'll be big.
For her efforts, Adela took home $20,000 of the $50,000 purse. Is she on her way to dominating the sport the way Curry did, winning multiple Olympia and International crowns and holding both titles concurrently for several years? She could, as no one else has the combination of talent to win in the numbers game right now. Kelly Ryan may have something to say about that prediction, as may Hendershott'who, although she's now dialed it in physiquewise, would still have to beat Ryan in the routines to be a contender. We'll see what happens when the group gets together in Columbus, Ohio, on March 4 to kick off the 2005 season. IM
'04 Fitness Olympia
1) Adela Garcia-Friedmansky*
2) Jen Hendershott*
3) Kelly Ryan*
4) Kim Klein*
5) Tracey Greenwood- Krakowiak*
6) Julie Palmer
7) Stacy Hylton
8) Tanji Johnson
9) Mindi O'Brien
10) Anna Level
11) Klaudia Kinska
12) Stacy Simons
13) Jennifer Hanke
14) Teri Mooney
*Qualifies for the '05 Fitness Olympia.