LAST YEAR'S MR. OLYMPIA CONTEST saw a revolution in the judging of bodybuilding contests, and it was called the Challenge Round. It was a gamble that turned into a royal flush for bodybuilding fans lucky enough to be in Las Vegas that weekend in October. The O had always been an amazing spectacle, but the Challenge Round brought the contest to life as a sporting event in the truest sense of the phrase. Boxers throwing jabs, tennis players trading volleys ... please. They all pale next to the jaw-dropping thrill of watching Ronnie Coleman and Jay Cutler blot out the klieg lights with lat spreads so wide you could land a plane on them.
Speaking of back, the Challenge Round is, and with a vengeance, at what will be the 40th Anniversary rendition of Joe Weider's signature event. While dramatic, the changes this year are more evolution than revolution. For starters, the Challenge Round will have no bearing on the scoring of the Mr. Olympia contest itself. Instead, the Challenge Round will be a self-contained contest-within-a-contest, offering cash prizes totaling $50,000.
Including this increase, the prize money for the Mr. Olympia contest is now $550,00, compared to $399,000 in 2004, with the total prize money for all of the Weekend's events rising from $540,000 to $711,000, an increase of 32%.
But money isn't the only change in the Challenge Round. Here's the lowdown on exactly how the action will unfold this year:
The Scoring System. After the first four rounds of the Mr. Olympia have been judged, the top five competitors as ranked by the judges will come back out onstage, where they will stand on their "pods" in an order determined by the number affixed to their posing trunks. (Their specific placings, as decided by the IFBB judging panel, will not be revealed.) All five enter the Challenge Round with zero points. Starting with the competitor wearing the lowest number, each athlete will call one individual pose of his choice against each of the other four finalists in sequence--except no competitor can call out the same pose more than once, meaning there's no way to hide weak spots. (What's more, if one competitor loses a challenge against another, the latter cannot call that pose for his challenge against the former.) The winner of each pose, as scored by the Mr. Olympia panel, earns two points.
After the first competitor has completed his four challenges, the bodybuilder with the next-highest competitor number will begin his four challenges, and so on, until all five competitors have completed each of his four challenges. At the end of the Challenge Round, the athletes' total points will be tallied and prizes awarded as follows:
* 1st place: $25,000
* 2nd place: $10,000
* 3rd place: $8,000
* 4th place: $5,000
* 5th place: $2,000
In the event of a first-place tie in the Challenge Round, the top two bodybuilders will take turns calling out a pose against each other. The first competitor to win a pose called by the other will be declared the winner.
The Judges. Talk about peer pressure--a panel of former Mr. Olympia winners will judge the Challenge Round! As we go to press, Sergio Oliva, Franco Columbu, Frank Zane, Samir Bannout and Dorian Yates are slated to judge, and it is certain that other former Mr. Olympias will be recruited very soon.
Remember, this is totally separate from the Mr. Olympia contest, a fact that no one will mistake or misinterpret when the Challenge Round judges physically replace the Olympia judges at their stations for this round. Following completion of the Challenge Round, the regular IFBB judges will return to their stations, and the top five finishers in the Mr. Olympia will be announced in reverse order.
The Time Factor. We know--you're in a hurry to find out who's going to win bodybuilding's Super Bowl, the Mr. Olympia. So are we. That's why the new format for the Challenge Round will reduce its duration by at least one-third. For example, last year's 30-minute Challenge Round would be 10 minutes shorter this year.
The new format of the Challenge Round will bring even more drama to an Olympia Weekend already jam-packed with excitement. Without question, this year's program is on course to eclipse the outstanding success of the 2004 event--by a margin larger than one of those lat spreads.
WHAT: The Challenge Round at the Mr. Olympia Finals
WHEN: Oct. 15, 2005
WHERE: The Orleans Arena, Las Vegas
TICKET INFORMATION: See ad on pp. 236-37.
MORE INFORMATION ON THE 2005 OLYMPIA WEEKEND: Visit www.2005olympia.com, www.flexmagazine.com or www.muscleandfitness.com and look for upcoming articles detailing the event in both FLEX and MUSCLE & FITNESS magazines.
BY THE M & F STAFF
COPYRIGHT 2005 Weider Publications
COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale Group