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2004 Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic Report





It was another exciting show, although some people are upset with the decision to award Jay Cutler with the top prize. Many felt that either Dexter Jackson or Chris Cormier were more deserving of the title. In my opinion, all three put on an excellent show and the decision could have gone any of the three ways.

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2004 Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic - RESULTS! WINNER: JAY CUTLER (USA)

2. Chris Cormier *
3. Dexter Jackson (USA)
4. Günter Schlierkamp (Germany)
5. Marcus Ruhl *
6. Craig Titus
7. Gustavo Badell
8. King Kamali
9. Ahmad Haidar
10. Ernie Taylor (England)
11. Bob Cicherillo
12. Mustafa Mohammad
13. Greg Kovacs

*Note: Top five qualify for 2004 Mr. Olympia contest.

Now I will make detailed comments below for each athlete:

1st Jay Cutler - USA
Jay's third victory in a row for the Arnold Classic has so far turned out to be a controversial decision from some fans of the sport. Jay was noticeably flatter at the show, but this paid off in terms of conditioning because his glutes were striated and his back was noticeably more crisp. It is possible that fans of the sport are comparing Jay to previous versions of Jay and not the other athletes. Jay's lats did look smaller than usual for example, as well as his right arm, which was not quite as freaky as some of his more memorable showings. However, I had Jay originally in the third sport after prejudging, but after further review, I could see him anywhere between first and third place. That said, this decision is fine with me, but it was close between the second and third place athletes.

2nd Chris Cormier - USA
Chris definitely proved to everyone that he has the ability to enter a major pro show in top shape after he missed last year's Mr. Olympia competition due to illness. Chris was definitely in top form tonight, from overall muscularity to conditioning. He appeared very full, notably in his chest and quads. His back was crisp as usual, and I could easily have seen him place in the top spot instead of Jay. This turned out to be a very close competition.

3rd Dexter Jackson - USA
Dexter Jackson has still been given some criticism for his high lats. However, it is apparent from contest to contest that he has been improving this weak point. If he were to bring up his calves and improve on his high lats, he would be the complete package. But in today's age of mass monsters, it might still be difficult for him to place in the top spot in the major shows. With other athletes outweighing him by fifty pounds or more, he has a difficult task ahead of him, and it may take significant changes in the judges views of what bodybuilding is about before Dexter gets the props he deserves. In this show, he came in looking full and ripped to the bone as usual. A great showing all around.

4th Gunter Schlierkamp - Germany
Unfortunately for Gunter, he has still been unable to duplicate the conditioning he brought to the stage at the 2002 Mr. Olympia contest, where he placed fifth in a solid lineup of athletes. This showing was better than his showing at the 2003 Mr. Olympia contest in terms of muscularity and conditioning. His strengths are still he legs, but his lats appear small in some poses. For example, he looks slightly blocky in his abs and thigh pose, and his lats don't have the sweep in his front double biceps pose compared to some other athletes. That said, Gunter is still a top contender in my book and has done an excellent job representing both himself and the sport in all the contests he has entered including this one. In fact, he has the type of personality which could help bodybuilding become more of a mainstream sport. If he makes improvements in the areas mentioned, he can easily keep up this streak of top five finishes into the future, or even improve beyond that level.

5th Markus Ruhl - Germany
This was a most impressive showing from the big german. Aside from maintaining his normal monstrous size of over 280 pounds on a 5'11 frame, he looked harder than ever and his waist even looked to be down. Thighs and arms were huge and still has that razor sharp serratus. I could have seen him switch with Gunter for the number four spot. Definitely a great showing and he will do well in the future, especially at this year's Mr. Olympia.

6th Craig Titus - USA
Also one of the best showings from Craig in recent times. In fact, he hasn't looked this sharp since his victory at the 1996 USA championships, where he was the heavyweight and overall champion. He seems to have brought down his midsection and the loose skin on his chest didn't appear to be a problem at all. Unfortunately, placing sixth in this contest does not give him a spot at the Mr. Olympia, but hopefully he will qualify in one of the spring shows and come back to the Olympia after missing out in 2003.
7th Gustavo Badell
Gustavo placed third at the 2004 Pro Ironman contest but did not make it into the ranks of the top five this time. Looking sharp as always, Gustavo will be a good contender at the Mr. Olympia this year and definitely has a shot at the top 10 if he continues to make improvements as he has been.

8th King Kamali
King definitely didn't live up to the hype that surrounded him going into this contest. Judging from pictures of him two weeks out, he appeared to be destined for a top five finish. Apparently, a stomach virus caused King to become very dehydrated, and this cost him in terms of both size and conditioning. Definitely a respectable showing, and King still has several more chances to qualify for the 2004 Mr. Olympia contest, specifically in the 2004 San Francisco Pro Invitational.

9th Ahmad Haidar - Lebanon
Ahmad's ninth place finish was definitely a case of robbery. How it is possible for a man to come into a contest with perfect proportions, muscularity and conditioning and still place so low shows what the sport is about today. Ahmad certainly lacks the size necessary to compete at the level of some of his competitors, but something should be said about the incredible balance and conditioning he brings on stage. Another great showing by Ahmad, and hopefully we see him again at this year's Mr. Olympia.

10th Ernie Taylor - England
Good muscularity and conditioning. Unfortunately for Ernie, his larger than life triceps detract from the rest of his physique. Contrast that with his calves, which are a bit too small for his legs, and we see some area of improvement. However, Ernie already qualified for the 2004 Mr. Olympia in the 2003 English Grand Prix, so he has time to bring everything together before the big show.

11th Bob Cicherillo - USA
Bob appeared full in this contest as he did at the Ironman just a few weeks ago. He was better here, though, due to better conditioning. However, at this level, Bob lacks the genetic structure necessary to be top in this sport. He can definitely be a threat for the top 10 bodybuilders in the world or even better, but with athletes Ronnie Coleman and Jay Cutler, he will likely not be the winner of very many pro shows. Bob definitely has a few years ahead of him, and as he continues to make improvements, his placement in contests should improve at the same rate with fair judging.

12th Mustafa Mohammad
I feel Mustafa was overlooked in this contest and deserved a top 10 finish. He brought good balance to the stage as well as rock hard muscle. He had that classic, grainy look that Dorian Yates created, and although he was not at Dorian's level, he certainly had enough quality muscle and balance to place in the top 10. Especially good was his quad mass and sweep. Hopefully Mustafa competes in the upcoming shows and places higher than he did here.

13th Greg Kovacs
Unfortunately for Greg, he is not the most structurally gifted bodybuilders out there today. But a lot of props have to be given to Greg, after getting in contest shape for the first time since the 2001 Night of Champions. Greg needs to work on attaining more mass on his inner thighs and his arms, as well as reduce the muscularity of his obliques and streamline his midsection. From behind, however, he is fairly competitive. Compared to the other athletes, he dwarfs them all at a height of 6'3 and 335 pounds. He definitely came in hard and muscular, but has too many flaws to place in the top 10.

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Click HERE for the complete scorecard of the show!

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All photos are property of Ron Avidan of For more of Ron's excellent photography, please visit his website. Also, be sure to check out Ron's section on BodybuildingPro: GetBig Section.

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