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Calgary has been asking for an ABBA event for some time and on February 27, John Dirks and Paramount Performance delivered – in a big way! With close to 200 competitors, and a full house, there was an energy that hasn’t been felt in years. Promoter John Dirks sat beside me a couple times to share that he hasn’t seen anything like it before. If you are a competitor in Calgary, or anywhere in Alberta and you missed stepping on stage at this event, you definitely missed out.


Congratulations to all the Winter Classic competitors. Great to see so many of you participating in the various categories. John Dirks and his team did an outstanding job putting on such an exciting event for everyone in Alberta. Status Fitness Magazine looks forward to featuring many of you in various different forms of Status.

It’s been almost six years since the ABBA last did a show in the Stampede city. It was June 19, 2010 at the Archie Boyce Theatre that the ABBA last saw action south of the Red Deer River. Years before, the ABBA would regularly hold events, however, that ended on June 17, 2006, at the Grand Theatre. With the response we witness at the Winter Classic you can rest assured the ABBA will be back in 2017 even bigger.

(Paramount Performance Promoter – John Dirks – ABBA Winter Classic Promoter)

When the audience was asked who was at their first ABBA event, more than half of the hands went up. That was exciting to see. Quite a few people commented to me that there is something unique about the ABBA. They felt a family feeling and they appreciated seeing the support everyone was giving to every competitor that stepped on stage.


During a time when the economy in Alberta has been hit hard, it was good to see so many exhibitors at this event. Throughout the day there was a steady stream of visitors and the feedback I received was – it was well worth the time and money to have a booth space at this event. Everyone I spoke with said they would definitely be back in 2017. With this response, I imagine there will be doubled the number of booths set up.

Let’s get to the show itself.


Men’s Classic Physique

I’m going to jump ahead in the show and start with this class as it is one the entire country was excited to see. This was the first Men’s Classic Physique class in the Province, perhaps in the country. I was interested to see who would show up and whether they would do their homework. The IFBB is looking to get back to its roots. Remember the beginning with Steve Reeves, Clancey Ross, John Grimek, and Reg Park? There were three competitors in the class and although all three did very well and brought us back to the 60s, it was Ryan Keen that took the class to the level we all envisioned. Classic posing and black trunks complimented a physique, and mustache, straight out of Joe Weider’s Muscle Builder magazine. Christopher Boyse placed second and Dan Wischniwsky rounded out the top 3.

(ABBA Men’s Classic Physique Winner – Ryan Keen)


(ABBA Men’s Classic Physique Winner – Ryan Keen)

Junior Bodybuilding

It is always interesting to see the calibre of Junior Bodybuilders starting their journey. Some years there is a big discrepancy between the physiques and at other times the class is quite competitive. At this show, all three competitors came ready to battle. Each had done their homework and had followed their respective training and nutritional plan to a “T”. Allen Jalali took first place. Brandon Bell and Justin Ingram rounded out the top three.

Men’s Master Bodybuilding

The Master and Grandmaster Bodybuilding classes are inspiring to say the least. How many of us complain about pain in the mornings, and find it hard to find an hour to train in our busy schedules? Well, these gentlemen don’t complain and they get the job done and look fantastic because of it. In the Master class I was especially excited to see long time friend Kevin Gramlich step on stage. I know this was huge for him. He and his beautiful wife Kim put so much time and effort into the association back stage and behind the scenes so I was proud to see this journey come to fruition. Well done Kevin. You accomplished what most will never do.

Kevin wasn’t the only competitor in the class and the other 4 men beside Kevin all put in their work as well. It was competitive to say the least. Coming in first place was Preston Kurash, who was chiselled and showcased polished posing. Second place went to the big man himself, Lee Frank. Lee possesses amazing shape and continues to improve. Wait till this guy comes dialled in. He will be a force!! Third place went to Tyler Brownfield who also came in ripped but lacked the size that Preston and Lee carried. Rounding out the top five were Glenn Happner and Kevin Gramlich.

Men’s Grandmaster Bodybuilding

The only category more inspiring than Master Bodybuilding is Grand Master Bodybuilding. The age requirement to step on stage in this category is 50+. Both gentlemen were 60+ in this class and showed great sportsmanship, not to mention, great physiques. Alan Williams took first place just ahead of Rick Newcombe. They exemplify what hard work and discipline can achieve. Well done guys.

Bantamweight Bodybuilding

Kevin Gramlich was the lone competitor in this class and stepped on stage to accomplish one of his goals. Congratulations Kevin on acheiving this goal. You deserved to be up there.

Lightweight Bodybuilding

Although there was only one competitor in the Lightweight class, Tyler Brownfield came ready to compete. He looked great. Watch for Tyler at Provincials in June.

Middleweight Bodybuilding

The middleweight class was the most competitive of the morning. Six competitors battled hard to see who would emerge victorious and take the Winter Classic class crown. Try saying that ten times fast. All three Junior Bodybuilders were in this class, as well as others I have seen compete previously. Sixth place went to Junior Justin Ingram, with fellow Junior Brandon Bell cracking the top five. Forth place went to Mike Coughlin who looked the best I have seen him. He continues to improve and made the judge’s jobs quite difficult. Third place went to Junior Allen Jalali, then there was the battle for first. I would guarantee this was a close decision as both men brought complete packages. In the end, second place went to Sam Jasim and first to Dwayne Collins.

Light Heavyweight Bodybuilding

The Light Heavyweight Bodybuilding class can sometimes be the biggest class in a bodybuilding show but this year that title went to the Middleweight class. Josh Hunt came in lean and had good hard muscularity to take first place ahead of Master Bodybuilder Lee Frank and Drew Hayes. I look forward to seeing all three at Provincials in June.

Men’s Heavyweight Bodybuilding

Heavyweight Bodybuilding can be a difficult class to judge at times. I have seen guys 5’5” up against guys over 6 feet. This show, had a mixture of physiques. Forth place went to Jim Ambrus who has the genetics to do very well in this class. Jim has good size and shape, however, needed to come in leaner. With some work on his posing, watch for him to do damage at Provincials. Third place went to Master Bodybuilder Preston Kurash. Preston was well conditioned but lacked the size of Bradford Thompson who looked like he just walked off the cover of Status Fitness. First place deservingly went to Husam Al-salih who brought the right amount of size and conditioning to the stage. Watch for Husam at Provincials in June.

Overall Bodybuilding

The battle for the overall title is always entertaining. The top competitor from each class are compared and given the chance to go head to head. It is often a lot of fun and the lighter guys will jump in front of the heavier guys. I’ve seen it all over the years. This show was a lot of fun too. In the end Middleweight winner Dwayne Collins emerged victorious. Congratulations Dwayne. Well deserved.

(ABBA Men’s Bodybuilding Overall Winner – Dwayne Collins)

Women’s Physique

The Women’s Physique category has been growing more slowly than I had anticipated after Women’s Bodybuilding was removed from many of the shows across North America. It is unfortunate as there are many incredible female bodybuilders in the sport that have been limited to only a few shows each year. I, along with many others, thought there would be a bigger shift towards Physique, but it seems many women have decided to hang up their posing suits altogether, or compete in Figure. I for one am glad that this class has been introduced though as there needs to be an outlet for women who like to build muscle. I find Women’s Physique very entertaining. Each competitor gets a full 60 seconds to show case their hard work with an exciting routine. Many of these routines are quite captivating as the competitors pose smoothly to their favorite music.

The Women’s Physique discipline saw five competitors in total, four of which were Master competitors too. The Master class saw Tracy Atto take first place, ahead of Patricia Hurlburt who had a very entertaining routine that generated loud cheers from the audience. Third place went to Gail Flint and forth was rewarded to Joelene Potter.

(ABBA Women’s Master Physique Top Placements – Joelene Potter, Patricia Hurlburt, Tracy Atto, and Gail Flint)

Women’s Physique A had just one competitor, but a quality competitor it was – Tracy Atto, winner of the Master class and eventual winner of the overall title. Congratulations Tracy. Well done.

In the Women’s Physique B class we saw three of the four competitors earlier in the Master class. Rounding out the class was Janelle Romanko who has great genetics for this class. Janelle presented an entertaining routine, however, when the judging was complete, she had to settle for third place. Forth went to Joelene Potter, Second to Gail Flint and first to Patricia Hurlburt.

(ABBA Women’s Physique B Top Placements – Joelle Potter, Gail Flint, Patricia Hurlburt and Janelle Romanko)


Men’s Physique

Men’s Physique is the fastest growing category in the sport. At some shows, the numbers are quickly approaching those of Bikini. These competitors work hard day in day out and have built physiques that motivate, inspire and literally could be found on the cover of top fitness magazines. In fact, it is this group that Status Fitness Editor-in-Chief Rodney Jang looks to for editorial training layouts and even covers. What I have personally noticed is that most of the guys in this division are content to train hard, hit the stage, and then head back to the gym to pursue perfection missing the opportunity to photograph for exposure opportunities that can elevate their careers in a new direction. Reputable exposure in print is what separates many of today’s top fitness models. Look at the physiques you admire and it is guaranteed they can be found in magazines around the world.

The ABBA sees a growing number of quality competitors at the Provincial level, National level and even Pro level. This show saw thirty six competitors take to the stage in search of the first Winter Classic Overall title. In the Master Men’s class Alfred Voit took first place, followed by Joe Forte and Sean Steifel in third. Forth place went to Mike Francis, with Kevin Danschinko placing fifth and James Hightshoe in sixth.

(ABBA Men’s Physique Masters Top Placements – James Hightshoe, Mike Francis, Joe Forte, Alfred Voit, Sean Streifel and Keven Danschinko)

All three of the Men’s Physique Open Classes were competitive. The A class saw a variety of physiques make the top five. Judging physique can be tricky. This category requires size, but not quite the size of a bodybuilder, or now, a classic physique competitor. That means if someone is too big, they will be marked down. That said, conditioning is important so a big conditioned guy will typically place higher than a guy with possibly the right amount of muscle but poorer conditioning. It is left to the judges’ discretion which is why it is important to have five to seven judges on the panel with the high and low scores omitted from the final total.

Eibi Likcani combined the right amount of size and conditioning, with great stage presence and took first place. Abdulrahman Samad was a close second combining a tiny waist with broad shoulders, quality conditioning, good posing and stage presence. Master competitor Joe Forte took home third place, Thomas Bosma came forth and Ryan Ordonez rounded out the top 5.

(Men’s Physique A Top 5)

Class B saw a variety of physiques crack the top five. Clay Upson came in tight with good size to place first. Second went to Bertrand Roy, and third to Adrian Boettcher. Adrian is someone to watch. He is very charismatic and professional. Ahead of this show, he reached out to me to inquire about stage photos and was very appreciative. That attribute goes a long way, not to mention his desire to learn and best present himself ahead of time. In the next couple years, I see great things coming to Adrian. Rounding out the top five was Joshua Dakin in forth and Matt Porayko in fifth.

(Men’s Physique B Top 5)

Class C saw more consistency in the top five. All the guys carried similar muscle mass and were separated by shape and stage presence. The top three positions were very close. First place went to Michael Blackwell who went on to win the overall title too. Michael has a great look and a strong physique. This combined with great stage presence made him impossible to beat at this show. Watch for him to compete hard for the Alberta title come June. Second place was a tight race. In the end it went to Eric Bradbury. Close in third was Narek Khachatryan who will do very well at the Provincial and I predict at the National level as well. Narek has strong look, a small waist with wide shoulders and good stage presence. He will push Michael at Provincials. Forth place went to Cody Paradis who has a marketable look. Fifth went to the well conditioned Tyson Elberg.

(Men’s Physique C Top 5)

Please keep checking back for more coverage coming over the next couple weeks. Still to come Figure and Bikini.

What is it like to do a shoot with David Ford? Check out IFBB Pro Bikini Eboney Chipman’s video above. David will be in Alberta doing shoots for magazines throughout May and June this summer. Be sure to book with him in advance for your opportunity to get published.

To learn more about the Alberta Bodybuilding Association and the various avenues for competing they offer, please check out their website:

Keep up to date on the status of ABBA Winter Classic Stage Photo Packages at in the News & Travel section. If you didn’t order photos, please contact David Ford immediately to secure pre-show pricing. Cut off for pre-show pricing is Sunday, February 28, 8pm. After this time, packages are still available with a $50 late fee.

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UFC and fitness celebrity cover photographer David Ford is a world renowned, multi-accredited professional photographer by the Professional Photographers of Canada and the Professional Photographers of America, an international author and public speaker. The foundations of David's business include his professionalism, knowledge and skill set.

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