The 2011 Fitness Universe Weekend of events rolled back into Miami on June 16th to 18th, bringing together some incredible national and international competitors, all hoping to win a coveted title and maybe even get scouted by some of the top professionals in the fitness industry. Each year, the Miami Universe Weekend continues to grow, flourish and draw many new faces. Even the Fitness portion of the event, a division that has seen some losses to the Bikini and red-hot Model divisions, continues to be a strong draw for this organization.
With the first-time live filming of the event for ESPN3.com, and a celebrity sitting on the judging panel - star of Bravo's The Real Housewives of Miami and media, style and fitness industry professional, Alexia Echevarria - the air was abuzz with excitement and energy.
Due to the broadcast, the pace of the show was much faster, with the stage walk routines for all rounds truncated a bit to keep the show running on schedule. All competitors competed in both the preliminary routine and swimsuit rounds. The top 10 were announced the following day, with a tie resulting in a top 11; those competitors then performed both rounds again for live TV. The top five went on to compete in the interview round, the scores from which were combined with the previous day's routine and swimsuit scores, to determine the final top five placings.
1st Place: Anca Bucur
A former Romanian gymnast's debut back in 2010 marked her as one to watch for, with her quirky sense of style, elegance and athletic ability. While her second performance didn’t do her justice, she came back with flying black-and-white feathery colors to perform her Black Swan-inspired routine at this year’s Universe. Her svelte figure and exquisite performance had the audience believing she is a world-class ballet performer, earning her top score for the round.
In the swimsuit round, Anca’s slim physique may have been the factor that hindered her score, but she put on a good showing and came out with the 3rd top score.
2nd Place: Alex Navarro2nd Place: Alex Navarro
Physique-wise, Alex received top honors. This was a near hands-down decision from the judging panel. Alex presents a youthful and healthy commercial appeal that will serve her very well in her fitness and modeling career.
Her jungle-themed routine, with all the elements of a fun performance, lacked the degree of difficulty of Anca’s, but her overall performance and execution, her physique and movie-star good looks, were what won her the second-place spot in the entire competition.
3rd Place: LeeAnn McCormick
First-time competitor LeeAnn McCormick brought some surprising elements to the stage with her whimsical Super Mario Brothers routine. LeeAnn’s husband played Luigi and the two performed a crazy-looking trick with her hoisted over his head in a painfully impressive backward arch, bringing gasps from the audience. LeeAnn also incorporated her signature head-spin move, showcasing her abilities as a hip-hop performer.
4th Place: Christine Sclafani
This little firecracker of a competitor was performing in this competitive setting for the second time – her debut being at the New England Championships back in April. Christine repeated her “Gambler” performance here, but with more energy and precision, and as a result, she had an improved showing, even against this larger lineup of top-notch competitors. Christine displayed a lot of quick-fire tumbling and was able to keep the fast-paced tempo of her routine on track.
Christine did well in the swimsuit round as well, placing fourth overall with a compact, well-muscled physique.
5th Place: Else Lautala
Another beautiful, international performer who continually brings her A-game to the stage is former 2007 FAP Champion, Else Lautala. Here, Else performed a Burlesque-inspired routine, all while donning a bowler hat. Else always seems to glide through the air so effortlessly, making difficult moves look easy. Else has a balanced, athletic physique, which is expertly presented and fully worthy of the top-five finish she earned in the swimsuit round.
6th Place: Lori Harder, in her first showing on the Fitness stage.
7th Place: Nikki Bongiovanni
Tied 8th Place: Jessica Halbert
Tied 8th Place: Jaclyn Briggs
Tied 10th Place: Christina Jupinko
Tied 10th Place: Amber Ameredes