By Dan Solomon
I typically enter the building long before the crowds arrive, a world-class arena that hosts sporting events, concerts and just about anything suited for its 10,000 seat configuration. On this night the Orleans Arena, two miles off the Las Vegas trip, belonged to the event that crowns the top bodybuilder in the world.
When I first see the stage each year I’m reminded how far all of this has come. Undeniably the most expensive, well-crafted stage design in the world of muscle – it’s pretty damn impressive! Event director Robin Chang goes to great lengths to raise the bar each time around with the newest innovations in stage lighting, sound, and the kind of visual bells and whistles that help keep the Olympia in a class of its own. The contest has come a long way from that cozy auditorium located inside the Brooklyn Academy of Music where it all began in 1965 with a roll of the dice by Joe and Ben Weider.
A word of thanks to the record-setting audience who watched our Amazon.com webcast. I had the great privilege of hosting with Shawn Ray and Carla Sanchez under the direction of long time television maven Lou Zwick and his crew. I also enjoyed my time with Jim Manion, bodybuilding’s most influential man (I’ll have more on Jim in a few days. He’s made some headlines this week). And not to be forgotten, those inspiring athletes who took the stage over the course of the weekend, each demonstrating what can happen when ungodly genetics are merged with blood, sweat and boundless sacrifice.
What We Saw….
The showdown between Phil Heath and the man they call Big Ramy gave way to an epic clash of two titans, a rivalry that’s already setting the stage for 2018 when the champ goes for a share of bodybuilding’s most sacred record…while the challenger looks to become Olympia champ #14. Congrats are also in order for Flex Lewis on his latest triumph along with the iconic Queen of Fitness Oksana Grishina who dazzled us one final time with her rare mastery of artistry and strength, one of the greatest performers we’ve ever seen.
There’s truly nothing quite like the Olympia….already looking forward to next year.
Programming Note: Webcast replays will be available soon on Amazon Prime Video.