HERE'S THE DEAL

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"I weigh 269 tonight -- I got striations I've never had before," Chris Cormier told FLEX at the Olympia Athlete's meeting on October 12, 2005. "I'll be in the high 260s on stage -- the biggest I've ever been in competition. I knew I needed a little size to be competitive at the Olympia. I got up to 297 in the offseason; the most I've ever weighed."

Over the last several years, Chris "Real Deal" Cormier has competed much more strongly at the Arnold Classic than he has at the Olympia, a strange legacy that he would like to put to rest. "I don't know what it is about the Olympia. Maybe the weekend goes on so long that I start to get stressed, or I get injured while I'm preparing. My body just always reacts better for the Arnold. Maybe it's the weather."

As he's saying this, someone approaches him and hands him a clear Ziploc bag marked "Real Deal." The bag contains pairs of orange and yellow posing briefs decorated with sequins and glitter. He takes the bag like he’s been handed hazardous waste. "Man, I don't like this sparkly crap. I like solids."

On Saturday night, you can expect to see Chris Cormier in solid form.

GAME FACE

The energy at the athlete's meeting is a quiet intensity. Barely anyone speaks. Almost none of the athletes sit next to another athlete, spreading out throughout the room every other seat like they’re preparing to take the SATs. Some bodybuilders look like they're so depleted they can barely stand, their eyes yellowed, their faces gaunt, their movements unsteady like marathoners depleted of electolytes.

Others including Jay Cutler, Chris Cormier and Gunter Schlierkamp have a low-key self assurance in their body language. These guys have the situation under control. Still, out of respect for the competition, they quietly take their seats. They remain quiet, but their eyes are lively, checking out the competition.

In the front row, Ronnie Coleman sits doubled over, silent, brooding. No one sits next to him. No one talks to him.

One by one, the athletes are called to the front and given their competitor numbers. The game is on.

Athletes Meeting Gallery

Joe Weider's 2005 Olympia Weekend promises to be the most sensation bodybuilding festival ever. To book your ringside seat go to: www.2005olympia.com, www.flexonline.com or www.muscleandfitness.com for full details about Joe Weider's 2005 Olympia Weekend.

Or check your PPV provider for local details.

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