2015 WBFF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS REVIEW

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The WBFF World Championships is an event like no other. WBFF President Paul Dillett has turned his unique vision into a creative pageant where fitness athletes of all levels can showcase their individuality, fashion flare and hard work before a worldwide audience. The prestigious Cosmopolitan Resort and Casino in Las Vegas played host to this year’s extravaganza. It was very fitting as more than two hundred of the top professionals from around the world came to reveal the fruits of their labor over the past year. WBFF Executive Vice President Allison Dillett begins organizing every aspect of the show more than a year out. Allison's attention to detail enables such a large event to run seemlessly for better part of the week. Without her, this show wouldn't be possible. 

President Paul Dillett has turned his unique vision into a creative pageant where fitness athletes of all levels can showcase their individuality, fashion flare and hard work before a worldwide audience.

Lead Up To Worlds

I have had the honor of attending and photographing every WBFF World Championship since Paul and Allison Dillett launched the show in 2007. It's enabled me to witness and photograph every competitor that has stepped on the prestigious World stage. Each year it's exciting to see who will claim the biggest titles. Join me as I take you back to the week leading up to the big show and the show itself and my thoughts throughout.

Wide Open

There were a number of plots that thickened as the Worlds weekend approached. First, reigning Diva Bikini Champion Amanda Saccomanno was busy filming Tough Enough with the WWE which opened the door for a new champion. Who would rise to the occasion? All eyes were on Montreal Pro/Am winner Ashleigh Frost from South Africa. Ashleigh always has great stage presence but would she present the same level of conditioning as she did in Montreal? The long trek from South Africa can play havoc on the body, let alone the mind, so I was quite interested to see how she would show up. Another competitor that stood out to me in 2014 was Sandra Radav who had placed third. Despite an ankle injury that limited her training and movement on stage it was evident Sandra possessed the physique, presence and beauty that could earn her a first place trophy this year. The third competitor I felt had potential to walk into Amanda’s vacated position was New York’s Ashley Nocera who placed seventh last year. Ashley and I had an opportunity to do a brief shoot a couple years previous and I saw her potential then. Add a couple years of training and stage practice and watch out – this could be her year. Of course we can’t forget that many new faces that have turned pro over the past year - could one of these new stars be a surprise at this show?

Four-Peat?

The second biggest story at the Worlds weekend was in the Diva Fitness Model class where Andreia Brazier sought her forth-consecutive championship title. It’s difficult to retain the crown in any sport, let alone physique competitions. A year’s worth of work goes in to nailing your conditioning for one day. That doesn’t include the fact that every other pro in the world is gunning hard for that coveted first place Swarovski Crystal crown too. I felt Andreia was her best in 2012 although some felt she was a little too muscular and vascular. 2013 she softened things up slightly and looked great as well. In 2014 I felt she was letting other competitors creep up on her, as she wasn’t in the same shape as ’12 or ’13. That said, there is something captivating about Andreia on stage. Conditioning and muscularity is one component, however, this world champion is effortless in displaying her physique and beauty. She is captivating and her often-times-slow movements keep drawing attention her way. In 2012 I had the pleasure of working with her after the show and quickly caught a more intimate glimpse into her personality. She shines in her own unique way. The combination she brings to the World stage is hard to beat and I wasn’t sure anyone could this year either.

I felt Andreia was her best in 2012 although some felt she was a little too muscular and vascular.

There was a fair bit of hype surrounding a few competitors including Susie Woffenden who was forth in 2014, Hattie Boydle and Arianna Hernandez who came third last year. All three are something special and bring strong, unique presentations to the stage. Susie has an awesome smile and a strong, lean physique. Hattie reminds me a lot of Andreia both in physique and presentation. She has beautiful feminine muscularity and a natural beautiful presence. Arianna has an aura about her that reminds me a lot of past 3x champion Miryah Scott. Her smile, as well as her strong, shapely physique and stage presence definitely grabs attention. My question was whether Arianna’s conditioning would be at a level necessary to overthrow the reigning champion. We would soon find out.

(Pro Muscle Model - AJ Ellison - David Ford shoot - Status Fitness Magazine cover & feature, and PhotoLife feature)

Repeat?

The Pro Muscle Model class is always competitive. Would Wittemberg Adolf Stanley repeat as champion? It was strongly believed that current Status Fitness cover model AJ Ellison would skip this show as he was healing from some serious nagging injuries. In 2014 it was AJ and Wittemberg that battled it out for top position. Jaco Moolman was close behind and placed third in the 2014 show. James Alexander Ellis, sixth last year, is always pressing hard and continuously brings a well-conditioned physique along with an energetic stage presence, would this be his year?  Leading up to the show I was hearing some rumours about another UK competitor Roger Snipes. I hadn’t seen him compete previously so was eagerly awaiting the opportunity to see how he would do against Wittemberg, AJ, Jaco and James.

James Alexander Ellis is always pressing hard and continuously brings a well-conditioned physique along with an energetic stage presence

New Champion

The Pro Male Fitness Model category is one I know well having had the opportunity to work with many in this group on magazine submissions over the years. Stian Lemmer, fifth in 2014, updated me that he was coming in with added size and better conditioning than he had the previous year. In fact, Stian felt this was one of his best years to date and he’s a man that always delivers. Would this be his year? Shawn McIntyre, seventh last year, has made an impression on the fitness industry the past couple years, especially after landing a Status Fitness cover in early 2014. Shawn won the WBFF Montreal Pro/Am back in April and was someone to watch especially considering he always shows up in shredded condition. Jae Sung Ahn, tenth in 2014, from South Korea always competes at 100%. I knew he would be on again at this show. Tamer Douglas has a marketable look and has steadily been moving up in his placements. Tom Coleman has a well-balanced, strong, marketable look. Would this be the year he would step into the coveted first place? We can’t forget about Jean Jacques Barrett who has consistently improved since I first met his years ago. I believe it was around 2009 that I did one of my first shoots with Jean Jacques. He is always professional and willing to tackle anything I throw at him for magazine submissions or for shots that his sponsors could use. I know he puts this same fire into his show preparations too. How would he look this year?

Media Day

Organized by Paul and Allison Dillett and their team of volunteers, Media Day is an exciting opportunity for the competitors and the media alike to visit, take fun photos and get to know each other a little better. Status Fitness Magazine was present and of course enjoyed the experience! Editor-in-Chief Rodney Jang visited with many of those that attended and Status Fitness photographer Ali Sohrab hammed it up with many of the pros as he conducted mini photo shoots where he made dozens of new friends. Be sure to check out some of Ali's photos below.

Over the course of the week leading up to the big show, including Media Day, I had a chance to visit with many of the pros. The confidence each carried made the entire week that much more interesting. The energy continuously builds and come show day, there is an excitement that has to be felt in person. The PPV of the show is great but you miss the electric feel that the competitors and audience bring to the auditorium live.

Friday afternoon, show manager Richard Levy gave me a tour of the Chelsea Theatre. One of the first things I noticed implemented this show was the dramatic lighting – Paul puts hundreds of thousands into the production - and it was incredible, even more so than years previous, however for the competitors it would be less forgiving. When a stage is evenly lit with flat lighting, it’s harder for the judges to see the differences in the competitor’s conditioning, skin tone and complexion. A less fit competitor can get away with a few indiscretions. At this year’s show, that wasn’t the case. If you weren’t on, it quickly became evident to an experienced eye and to my camera.

Let the Show Begin!

Pro Diva Figure Model

The pre-judging Saturday morning began with the Pro Diva Figure Model category. With recent past World Champions - Emily Stirling and Louise Van Der Nat - out of this show, would Shannon Petralito step up and take the position that I felt was hers to lose? Paul is looking to see the Figure class exemplify the modelesque qualities and presentations he likes in both Diva Bikini and Diva Fitness. He does not want to see the traditional posing that often limits a competitor’s personality and consequently marketability. Shannon is a beautiful girl that packs a well-proportioned muscular physique. In fact, Shannon placed forth in the Status Fitness Top 100 Fitness Models of the World in 2014. Her balance is reminiscent of the previous titleholders so provided she came in conditioned, she was my favorite to win the big show. She didn’t disappoint. Shannon nailed her conditioning and was entertaining with her usual marketable stage presence. Anne-Marie Lasserre, forth last year, was in great shape and shone on stage and moved up two spots into second place. Third place went to the beautiful Christina Marostordai. Christina has a marketable look that should see her gracing the pages of fitness publications in the coming year. Rounding out the Top 5 were Michelle Gaynes and Veronica Yoo.

Status Fitness Editor-in-Chief, Rodney Jang: "A front-runner last year, Shannon did everything to earn the title. The only thing that matches Shannon's developer physique is her kind personality." 

(Pro Diva Figure Champion - Shannon Petralito)

(Pro Diva Figure - 2nd, Ann Marie Lasserre)

(Pro Diva Figure - 3rd, Christina Marostordai)

(Pro Diva Fitness Model - Muna Breitem - Shoot with David Ford resulted in cover, and full feature in Status Fitness Magazine.)

Pro Male Fitness Model

Shaun Stafford was the reigning champion entering the 2015 World show. Although he pulled an all-nighter to make it to the event he wasn’t there to compete. Family responsibilities rightfully took precedence but it was great to see him at the judge’s table come pre-judging. As each competitor took to the stage it quickly became apparent the judges had their work cut out. It seemed everyone was on – both with their conditioning and with their stage presence. After seeing each of the competitors present, I was leaning towards Tom Coleman as the winner with Williams Falade right on his heels. I also saw a new face in Vinny Gough from Ireland. Vinny had just won the WBFF Denmark show and had momentum behind him. When you consider that even a year ago, Vinny had never competed, he showed the stage presence of a seasoned veteran. He possessed a fresh look so I was interested to see how the judges would position him. As anticipated, Jae Sung Ahn was on and looked great again at this show. Stian Lemmer didn’t disappoint with his shape and conditioning, although I felt he hurried his presentation at pre-judging. Stian has a marketable look and with a few adjusments will definitely move up in placement. Shawn McIntyre is always a threat and after his Montreal win, was someone to watch. He looked great but missed a couple key elements in his presentation that held him back from cracking the Top 5. Shane Fortner made an impression on the judges and as he builds more balance between his upper body and his strong wheels, he will see his placement improve. Tamer Douglas shared with me some of his goals after winning his pro-card in Edmonton. He is well on his way and is now a published model having been recently featured in Status Fitness. He continues to draw attention and the judges rewarded him with a top ten finish. Keep an eye on Tamer next year. At the end of the night, after the dust settled, Vinny Gough took first place with Williams Falade a close second. Tom Coleman finished in third, Jae Sung Ahn in forth and Stian Lemmer rounded out the Top 5.

Status Fitness Editor-in-Chief, Rodney Jang: "Relatively unknown to Status Fitness Magazine, Vinny was a surprise winner of the class. I don't think even he expected to win. However after detailed comparison I can see why he did so well. Your prototypical fitness model." 

(Pro Male Fitness Model Winner - Vinny Gough)

(Pro Male Fitness Model - 2nd, Williams Falade)

(Pro Male Fitness Model - 3rd, Tom Coleman)

(Pro Male Fitness Model - 4th, Jae Sung Ahn)

(Pro Male Fitness Model - 5th, Stian Lemmer)

(Pro Male Fitness Model - 6th, Status Fitness Cover Model Shawn McIntyre)

(Pro Male Fitness Model - 7th, Status Fitness featured model Shane Fortner)

(Pro Male Fitness Model - 8th, Status Fitness featured model Jean Jacques Barrett)

(Pro Male Fitness Model - 9th, Status Fitness featured model Tamer Douglas)

Pro Diva Bikini Model

I was excited for this class. With the exception of Amanda Saccomanno, Gabi Castrovinci and Brittany Coutu, it seemed all the current top competitors were in play for the coveted crown this year as well as quite a few faces I don’t remember seeing in the past. Oksana Artemova and Cristina Silva are two names that eluded me until this Worlds show. Oksana had one of the best stage presentations of the day and in her “fitted to perfection” bikini she quickly set herself up as one to beat in my opinion. As she walked to center stage, her eyes looked at the judges and the audience. On a day where many competitors seemed to search the floor, Oksana wasn’t about to let that rookie mistake happen to her. She was having fun on stage and it showed. Oksana glided across the stage effortlessly pulling your attention along with her as she smiled over her shoulder. Cristina has a “super model” look. She peaked in great condition and even the hard lighting couldn’t reveal a flaw. Her swimsuit was beautiful and she shone as she stood alone at center stage. Her muscularity reminded me a little of former World champion Chady Dunmore.  She was definitely in my mix to emerge victorious. I waited for Sandra Radav. Sandra presented a fierce, sexy statement as she strutted to center stage. Her physique was strong, make-up perfect and hair flowed in the breeze she created with her walk. Her eyes focused on my lens as she gracefully turned, hand in her hair. The heat was definitely being turned up!! These three ladies were battling hard for top spots but Ashleigh Frost was not about to let a top position slip away and had a very strong showing. Ashleigh has a quiet confidence about her that clearly shows as she poses on stage. Her unique bikini with full sleeve counter balanced with an additional string of jewels on her bottoms definitely grabbed attention. Like Ashleigh, Ashley Nocera brought her A-game and competed hard. Although she wasn’t as lean as some of the others, she presented her package perfectly and lit up the stage. At the end of the day, Cristina Silva took first place, Sandra Radav placed a competitive second, Oksana Artemova third, Ashleigh Frost forth and Ashley Nocera rounded out the Top 5. Worthy of mention, one of my favorite Diva Bikini Pros from the Montreal PRO/AM, Andreanna Coffman, impressed the judging panel and squeezed into the Top 10.

Status Fitness Editor-in-Chief, Rodney Jang: "Unknown to Status Fitness Magazine, Cristina is exactly what Bikini Model is supposed to be - pretty, curvy, fit and possesses a great smile. She looked like she was having a great time. All reasons why she scored so well in the judges' eyes." 

(Pro Diva Bikini Winner - Cristina Silva being presented the crown by WBFF Vice President Allison Dillett)

(Pro Diva Bikini Winner - Cristina Silva working her magic on stage)

(Pro Diva Bikini Winner - Cristina Silva hitting a back pose during World Finals)

(Pro Diva Bikini - 2nd, Sandra Radav in full stride during pre-judging)

(Pro Diva Bikini - 2nd, Sandra Radav posing elegantly during the World Finals)

(Pro Diva Bikini - 3rd, Oksana Artemova)

(Pro Diva Bikini - 4th, Ashleigh Frost shining during her time on stage)

(Pro Diva Bikini - 5th, Ashley Nocera, turning it up for the PPV Video Camera)

Pro Muscle Model

The battle of the big boys lived up to the competitive nature we have seen in years past. Would Wittemberg Adolf Stanley match his conditioning from 2014? You better believe it!! In fact, Wittemberg added a little more size in all the right places for an incredibly balanced physique. His broad shoulders, small waist and sweeping thighs are qualities legends are made of. Add to this his presentation and you had a repeat of last year without any hesitation. Members of the UK team told me to keep an eye out for Roger Snipes. In his first World Championships Roger presented a well-rounded package that comfortably put him in second place. Where things got interesting was for the next three positions. I always like AJ Ellison and he must always be considered a favorite even when coming off a long period of time where his leg training was severely limited due to injuries. That said, when you have someone knocking at the door with wheels like James Alexander Ellis, sixth in 2014, there is no room for error. The down time for AJ was apparent and this opened the door for James to step into the Top 3. Giving James credit where it’s due, was the fact that this was his best conditioning to date and he’s closing the gap between his legs and upper body balance. He’s clearly a man on a mission and for James it’s definitely not a mission impossible. Making the last minute decision to enter the show, in fact, I hear he decided on Wednesday while visiting friends at registration, AJ earned the repeated respect of friends, fellow competitors and media alike. I have worked with AJ many times going back to the last decade and have to say he is always professional and in great condition.  He was on again at this World show but his legs lacked the added punch of training just enough to throw off his balance slightly and despite his conditioning, he had to settle for forth. Rounding out the Top 5 was South Africa’s Jaco Moolman.

Status Fitness Editor-in-Chief, Rodney Jang: "Full and round muscle bellies makes Wittenberg a perennial champion. With legs to match, Wittenberg was a highlight of the show." 

(Pro Muscle Model Winner - Wittemberg Adolf Stanley)

(Pro Muscle Model - 2nd, Roger Snipes)

(Pro Muscle Model - 3rd, James Alexander Ellis)

(Pro Muscle Model - 4th, current Status Fitness Cover Model AJ Ellison)

(Pro Muscle Model - 5th, Jaco Moolman)

Pro Diva Fitness Model

I have to admit this category is the one I get most excited for each year. Like Pro Men’s Fitness Model, I know a lot of the competitors in this class having photographed them for magazines over the years. When you know the competitors, it’s important to keep a non-biased feeling in order to view them as objectively as possible. As I mentioned early on in this show review, I felt Andreia Brazier was her best in 2012 and 2013, however that said, I haven’t seen anyone rise to the occasion that could overthrow her. Could this be the year? As the pros each came out to center stage I kept room for Andreia. Until I saw her take the stage, I didn’t really have a point of reference. As the division progressed, I saw a few competitors that I had really wanted to see go through their posing presentations but none were blowing me away. Was I being too critical? Was I living in 2014? Andreia came out. Hmmm.  Okay, she looks good but she’s left the door open a little in my opinion. If you’re going to beat the champion, you better bring you’re A-game and then some. Maybe Hattie Boydle could fight her way into top place. Hattie brought a quality package but was it enough? Susie Woffenden was another top consideration and I knew she was lean, as we had been talking leading up to the show. Would it be Susie’s year? Maybe Julie Germaine would follow up a 2014 Montreal Pro/Am win as a top contender this year? Arianna Hernandez perhaps? At the end of pre-judging it was clear to me that Andreia would retain her crown for a forth-consecutive year. That said, she did allow her competition to creep closer and make things interesting; in fact, several people voiced they thought that Susie Woffenden might win or newcomer Julia Stecher. It wasn’t until after the evening show ran down that we saw the final Top 5 positions. Andreia came first, Susie Woffenden second, Julia Stecher third, Hattie Boydle forth and Arianna Hernandez rounded out the top group. Well-done Andreia! Congratulations on your forth World title.

I want to give a special mention to Alyx Luck who myself, and Status Fitness Editor-in-Chief Rodney Jang, felt had the most impressive stage routine during her solo presentation. Alyx added unique artistic ballerina moves that captured both our attention. Well done Alyx. Also, one of my favorite all time fitness models, Mandy Blank was back in a big way and looked fantastic. Mandy had one of my favorite theme wear outfits of the night. 

Status Fitness Editor-in-Chief, Rodney Jang: "4x Diva Fitness Model winner, Andreia Brazier is a WBFF superstar. With her advanced physique and chiseled abs, Andreia has dominated the fitness model division. With these credentials, Andreia may have earned the privilege to grace the pages of a Status Fitness Magazine cover." 

(Pro Diva Fitness Model Winner - 4x Champion Andreia Brazier)

(Pro Diva Fitness Model - 2nd, Susie Woffenden)

(Pro Diva Fitness Model - 3rd, Julia Stecher)

(Pro Diva Fitness Model - 4th, Hattie Boydle)

(Pro Diva Fitness Model - 5th, Arianna Hernandez)

(Pro Diva Fitness Model - 3rd, Julia Stecher receiving a trophy for best Theme Wear)

(Pro Diva Fitness Model - Alyx Luck)

(Pro Diva Fitness Model - Mandy Blank - One of My Favorite Models of All Time)

(Pro Diva Fitness Model - Jenn Jewell - Shoot with David Ford resulted in cover, and full feature in Status Fitness Magazine.)

Conclusion

I’m already excited to see what 2016 holds. As more pros plan to attend next year’s World Championships, and new pros qualify, it’s going to be very interesting to see what happens. Rumour has it that Andreia is planning to step down but time will provide that evidence. Will Julia and Susie battle it out for first in the Pro Diva Fitness Model class or will there be someone else more deserving? Will Amanda be back to go after the Pro Diva Bikini Model title she forfeited? Will AJ have a healthy off-season and come back at 100%? There are a lot of stories to develop over the coming year. In the mean time, be sure to check out many of the WBFF pro athletes in Status Fitness Magazine over that time period and watch for new faces that you may recognize on stage in 2016.

2015 World Championship Stage Photo Packages: Please keep up to date on all ordered stage packages through the News & Update section at www.davidfordphotography.com. All packages for the 2015 WBFF World Championships were sent between August 23 and September 2. If you did not order a package, it is not too late. Please contact David through his website.

2015 World Championship Pay Per View: Pay Per View of the World Championships is currently available. Check out our little video from the week leading up to the big show then jump over and order here: http://live.wbffshows.com/video/

About David Ford

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.