For a quiet gal, Jennifer Sedia causes a lot of upset. Like her upset, they-gave-it-to-the-middleweight? overall victory at the ’07 NPC USA. Or her upset win over last week’s darling, Nicole Ball, in the lightweight class at the ’08 Europa Supershow, which took place this past weekend, August 15 and 16, in Dallas.
Nineteen female flexers—11 lightweights and eight heavies—hit the boards at Ed and Betty Pariso’s titanic Texas tournament of physique competition. It was a good-looking lineup, rather light on the type of extremes that are supposedly being frowned upon. To put it another way, if the judges were looking to emphasize a more “feminine” brand of muscularity, as has been widely publicized, they had plenty to choose from. With their selections of Sedia and heavyweight champ Sherry Smith to take home the first-place checks, it’s clear that they took advantage of the bounty.
Lightweights. I had to snicker when Jen Sedia was announced in first. Thanks to Bodybuilding.com—those Webcasts are getting better and better—I got to see a large portion of the finals. A quick perusal of the symmetrical Sedia, who was lean, conditioned and confident in her pro debut, standing next to Ball and Klaudia Larson, and I had a funny feeling she would pull it off.
The aforementioned pair had gone one-two at the no-weight-classes Tampa Pro Bodybuilding Weekly competition on August 9, making them the obvious favorites among the contenders weighing 135 pounds and under here. And they looked very good. Ball, the ’07 Canadian national champ, carried a little more muscle, while Larson, who’s from Sweden, had a slightly better flow of the bodyparts. Either would have been a good choice, and Debbie Bramwell, third in Tampa and coming into her own as a pro at a rapid pace, appeared to be a serious candidate as well.
Sedia, however, had the best bodypart flow of the bunch, and though she didn’t display as much muscle as, say, Bramwell, she had enough. Since all signs point to the fact that sweeping changes are indeed occurring in the judging of IFBB and NPC women’s bodybuilding competitions, Sedia stood a decent chance of pulling it off, I thought. The judges thought so too, giving her 27-margin of victory over Ball, with Larson landing a mere four points behind Nicole, in third. Bramwell was fourth, with Italy’s Claudia Partenza rounding out the top five.
Since only the class winners got Olympia qualifications at the Europa (as opposed to a no-weight-class competition, where the top three are tapped), it’s not hard to see what the panel’s thinking might have been here: Ball, Larson and Bramwell were already Olympia bound. By choosing Sedia, they packed one more smaller, highly aesthetic physique into the Olympia lineup.
The same might be said of their decisions in the heavyweight class.
Heavyweights. By the time I tuned in, this clash had come down to Kim Perez, fourth in Tampa, Annie Rivieccio and Smith. Had the judges gone strictly for shape, Rivieccio might have gotten the nod. She appeared smaller (or was it just that I was watching on my laptop), but could maybe have been a little leaner. Still, the curves—muscular and otherwise—that have helped her finish as high as third in the Ms. Olympia were very much in evidence. In this class, however, Annie’s curves were no match Kim’s super separation or Smith’s balanced muscularity. The final tabulation gave Sherry a 17-point win, with Perez in second and Rivieccio another 18 points behind in third.
There was no overall winner—why divide up the prize money even more? say the promoters. A case could be made that the choice of Smith to get the Olympia invite in the heavies was similar to the selection of Sedia: another smaller-style body for the big show in September.
A glance at the Ms. O lineup so far shows an interesting divide (find it at www.ifbbpro.com/2008-olympia-qualifiers). You’ve got your top-six Olympia finishers from ’07, four of whom also qualified at the ’08 Ms. International and all of whom are, arguably, very muscular women—Iris Kyle, Dayana Cadeau, Yaxeni Oriquen, Lisa Aukland, Heather Armbrust and Betty Pariso—and you’ve got your gals who’ve qualified since the O, including Brenda Raganot, Cathy LeFrancois, Rosemary Jennings, Jeannie Paparone and the ladies mentioned above. Most of the second group are not exactly mass monstresses, so the question must be asked (and asked, and asked): What will happen at the Olympia, when they all stand together onstage?
On the Webcast, co-anchor Chaundra Tangi (working with Elaine Goodlad) reported that her fellow Coloradan, Arbrust, was scaling back her bod and loving the way she looks. Heather, however, is a relative newcomer to the pros. Whether the other five members of the ’07 royal court, all of whom are top-six veterans, follow suit will be something to talk about come Olympia time.
Photos: Jennifer Sedia (top) and Sherry Smith.
’08 Europa Supershow Women’s Bodybuilding
1) Jennifer Sedia
2) Nicole Ball
3) Klaudia Larson
4) Debbie Bramwell
5) Claudia Partenza
6) Benni Lopez
7) Myriam Bustamante
8) Tonia Moore
9) Melanie DeRosa
10) Carri Baldwin
11) Mary Ellen Jerumbo
1) Sherry Smith
2) Kim Perez
3) Annie Rivieccio
4) Irene Andersen
5) Jana Linke-Sippl
6) Aurelia Grozajova
7) Jena Mackey
8) Zoraida Figueroa Rivera