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Memories—The Posedown in Prague

The announcement by Pro World Masters promoter Jarka Lorie Schneider that she would revive the Masters Mr. Olympia in December, taking the action outside the States to Prague, Czech Republic, brought a flood of memories. I was fortunately enough to cover Jarka’s last production in Prague, the ’98 Ms. Olympia, for IRON MAN, and it was one of those trip-of-a-lifetime experiences.

Prague is the fairy tale City of Spires, and in 1998 it was oozing Old World charm. The competition was held at the Municipal House, an Art Nouveau concert hall more used to showcasing the Prague Symphony than the largest ladies on the planet. The conversation among the media types on the scene was whether another victory by the mega-massed Kim Chizevsky, who already had two under her posing suit, would spell the end of women’s bodybuilding. Amazing how some things never change.

With eye and ear on strategizing how I can get back to Prague if this show makes it onto IFBB Pro League schedule, I pulled out ye olde photo album and fired up the scanner. Can it really be almost 14 years?

Photos (from top):

Poster. There was some discussion about the competition poster, which featured longtime star Laura Creavalle and guest poser Flex Wheeler, rather than Chizevsky, in the foreground. Not that Laura didn’t carry plenty of muscle. Seventeen women came from all over the world to the Posedown in Prague, including hometown favorite Jitka Harazimova, who landed in seventh.

Kim. Chizevsky, who was maybe not quite as extremely conditioned as she’d been previously, scored a unanimous victory. From my contest report, which appeared in the March ’99 IRON MAN: “Talk about your biceps peaks! Your triceps stripes! Your serrated delts and back like a carved fresco! And that was just her upper body. With her beautifully swept quads and hamstrings and deep thigh separations Kim presented an incomparable package of mass, proportion, symmetry and outlandish conditioning. The judges rewarded her with a perfect score in every round, putting her 27 points ahead of second-placer Yolanda Hughes to earn her third straight Ms. O crown.” During a night on the town with a pair of rowdy then-Weider staffers who shall remain nameless, my companions jokingly suggested, “The thing that will save women’s bodybuilding will be a 210-pound monster who makes Kim Chizevsky look small and smooth.” At least I think they were kidding. Fortunately, we’re not there…yet.

Yolanda. Full disclosure. Yolanda Hughes, two-time Ms. International, is one of my all-time favorites. Famous for tossing gymnastics moves into her posing routine, she was at the top of her form, moving up to second from her third-place finish in ’97.

Laura. It was the 11th of 12 Ms. Olympia appearances for symmetrical sweetheart Creavalle, who finished in the top six in all but one of those contests, including two second and three third-place landings, and many think she should have beaten Lenda Murray at least once back in the early ’90s. I believe that’s Wayne Gallash behind her with the videocamera.

Andrulla. Pint-sized British powerhouse Andrulla Blanchette got the judges’ attention at this show, duplicating her sixth-place finish earlier in the year at the Ms. International. She won the Ms. Olympia Lightweight title in 2000, the year there were two classes and no overall champ.

Familiar face. Yaxeni Oriquen broke into the top 10 at ’98 Olympia, then dropped to 18th at the ’99 International a few months later (Cathy LeFrancois was 19th). It just goes to show ya.

One of the things that made the trip so  was that it also included a journey from Prague to the Nice, France, for the a week or so later for  the ’98 Fitness Olympia. Could be there are more memories—and scanning—to come.

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