Essen, Germany, April 16th
Held in conjunction with FIBO, the European mega trade show held annually in Germany, the weekend offered - for the first time - a pro women's bodybuilding event as part of the contest festivities along with the men's bodybuilding and women's fitness divisions. Staged at the Colosseum Theatre in Essen, fans of women's bodybuilding were treated to a spirited competition that featured a widely varied contingent of entrants.
A field of 11 contestants entered the affair in what was the first women's pro bodybuilding event on the European continent since the 1998 Ms. Olympia in the Czech Republic, and won by Kim Chizevsky.
In this group of competitors that featured no American presence, seven countries were, nonetheless, represented including Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Denmark, Slovakia, Greece, and Canada.
The Contest Scores High Marks With a Strong Nielsen Rating
Much of the pre-contest buzz over this event came by way of the highly anticipated return to competition of Denmark's Helle Nielsen - especially considering the fact that she had been away from the contest stage for seven years.
There is an old saying that goes, "Out of sight, out of mind". And certainly in a sport like bodybuilding where competitors come and go with regularity, the vivid memories of those who competed years earlier can fade. But on this day, Helle Nielsen brought her former presence back to striking clarity, bringing along the remembrance of just how good she was when she last competed in 2003.
Taking the stage in what we can call ‘Helleacious condition', Nielsen proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that she is still the greatest Dane with her thoroughly convincing victory.
Some may have forgotten just how good Nielsen was when she first arrived on the bodybuilding scene over a decade ago. After amateur victories at both the Danish Championships and Scandinavian Championships as a heavyweight, and a 10th place finish at the 1999 IFBB World Amateur Championships, she made her pro debut at the 2003 Jan Tana Classic. In winning, she was a unanimous choice of the judges. Nielsen impressed everyone with her stunning overall muscle definition and a set of calves that ranked among the best the sport had ever seen. But Nielsen wasn't finished in 2003. Later in the year she entered the Ms. Olympia, and in her first entry in that event she placed fifth in the heavyweight class finishing behind Lenda Murray, Iris Kyle, Yaxeni Oriquen and Betty Viana. Her placing also included a slot in front of three-time Ms. International winner Vickie Gates - pretty good company indeed.
When Nielsen won that Jan Tana event in her pro debut, she distributed 152 pounds on her 5-5 frame. Here, she upped the poundage to a more fully rounded 162 ¾ pounds. Ideally, it would be assumed that a weight somewhere between those two weights would be ideal for entry at the Ms. Olympia. And knowing her Iris Kyle-like approach to a work ethic, she'll be even better later in the year. As an added perk for her efforts, she accepted a check for $3,000 in prize money.
Running second the Nielsen was Skadi Seifert representing Switzerland. Entering the pro ranks last year, the 2009 German champion placed sixth at the Europa Battle of Champions and 13th at the Tampa Pro. But it was at this event that the German-born Seifert presented a greatly improved look, and a result that was much more favorable than she experienced last year.
With a strong athletic background in track & field and cycling, Siefert showed a well-balanced physique with particularly good glutial development and a highly detailed back double biceps pose. Her outstanding legs had also benefited from the years of cycling. At 5-6, and competing in the 160 range, Seifert was in the running for a top three placement from the first callout of prejudging. Along with Nielsen's return to the stage, Seifert becomes one of this season's most notable and pleasant surprises in much the same way Slovenian Brigita Brezovac burst on the pro scene last year winning her first two contests. There has never been any doubt about the strength of quality women in bodybuilding throughout Europe, and Seifert is now yet another one to watch in the immediate future. Perhaps even more notable about Seifert is the fact that she was instrumental in helping generate the interest (and sponsorship) in adding the women's bodybuilding division to the event schedule at this year's FIBO weekend - a reality that we can all appreciate. Her runner-up prize money totaled $2,000.
Finishing third was popular Canadian Cathy Lefrancois. Although the muscle volume throughout her physique appeared to have increased slightly, she was somewhat off her best condition. A combination of unavoidable elements may have led to her looking less sharp than anticipated. First, she was prepping for the New York Pro contest that was cancelled after athletes had begun their diet and preparation for the April 9th date. The added week of dieting and focus combined with the long flight to Germany could have easily conspired to alter her desired look. Fortunately, her third-place finish still qualifies her for the Ms. Olympia along with Nielsen and Seifert. The veteran of entrants in this contest, Lefrancois is a three-time winner of the New York Pro event over the past three successive years. And she had also posted a solid seventh-place finish at last year's Ms. Olympia. Competing in the pro ranks since 1995, Lefrancois still exudes a vibrant look and brings a pleasing overall countenance to the stage. She'll be sharp for the Ms. O with the contest only an hour's flight from her LA digs. Her third-place finish earned her $1,000.
Finishing in 4th was Italy's Claudia Partenza and 5th place was Switzerland's Roberta Tuor.
|Claudia Partenza||Roberta Tuor|