Friday, September 17, 2010

Alicia Gifford Jr. USA's Interview

At Jr. USA's Alicia Gifford stepped on stage for her first National show and took a very impressive 4th place. Alicia worked very hard for it, and the improvements she made are more than impressive. While it was Alicia's first National show, there will for sure be many more for her and soon that placing is bound to get higher and higher. And it will be exciting to see her continue to make the improvements that she will for sure make.

Q: Alicia, thanks for taking the time out to do this.
A: Thank YOU for being such a great promoter of this sport. It's nice to know that people out there recognize and appreciate our hard work!

Q: For those who may may not be familiar, can you tell a little about yourself.
A: I am from Maine, but I reside in Kentucky. I was a gymnast for 13 years, won three national championships in cheerleading and then got into figure as a result of graduating and needing something else to nurture my competitive drive. I did my first show in 2007, then took a year off and did 3 shows after that. I just recently competed at the Jr. USA's and I am planning on competing at Nationals in October.

Q: I must say congrats on Jr. USA's. I thought you looked incredible.
A: Thank you so much!! I definitely brought a leaner package than I have in the past and I will need to be even harder for Nationals. I'm excited to get started again!

Q: As a show itself what did you think of it?
A: It was very well run and though it was a smaller turnout than II expected, the competition was definitely up to par. Everyone looked great and there was a lot of excitement and energy backstage. Branch Warren was a great guest poser and there were some pros there to give us all inspiration! It was an exciting day overall.

Q: How confident were you going in?
A: I would say that I'm always fairly confident. You just have to realize that you did your all, you put in the hard work and there's nothing else to do, so just get on the stage and have fun! I think that helps in the stage presence and your overall feel if you can present to the judges a sense of confidence. There were 12 girls in my class and going in I really wanted top ten, knowing that this was my first national level show and that part of the game is to get your name out there. I felt good on stage and I felt even better after seeing the pictures between the two shows.

Q: After pre-judging how were you feeling about your chances?
A: The first call out in my class was the top three, then next had four in it, so I basically knew I was top 7. I was very happy with that and it exceeded my overall goal of placing top 10. I was ecstatic!

Q: How did you feel about the overall package your brought to the stage?
A: I definitely feel like it was the best I've brought thus far. There are always things we look at and realize they could be better, but that's just motivation to hit the gym hard in the offseason.

Q: What part of your physique would you say was the one you have improved the most the last year?
A: My back. I wanted more density in my back and wider lats. I think I was able to do that and I also added a little size to my delts, which I needed.

Q: Was improving that a set goal of yours?
A: YES! I always set an offseason goal and something to really focus on. It helps and it's such a great surprise when you diet down and that part has gotten better.

Q: Was there one aspect of your physique you thought could have been better or you want to improve on?
A: I really want to improve my quad sweep, get more cuts in my quads, and continue the growth I've gotten on my delts.

Q: Did your prep go as smoothly as hoped for?
A: Yes, actually it did. It was easy this time, the diet didn't get to me mentally like it has in the past and I really enjoyed watching my body change everyday. I have actually gotten sick during most of my preps in the past as well and this time I didn't so that was nice!

Q: Is there a point in the prep process where you say "O.K. I am ready"?
A: The day of the show? Haha, I guess you never really feel "ready." You just make it through today, then the next day and so on. The time when I put the suit on, makeup, hair and I've gotten my tan all sprayed on, that's when I feel the most ready for the show. Up to that's still a process unfolding.

Q: Anything about the prep process that you can say you want to do different next time?
A: I want to do more cardio for this next show, and more plyometric activities to lean out farther. I need to be harder in the lower half of my body and for me that seems to be a work in progress.

Q: After a show like that, are you mentally drained at all?
A: Oh my goodness, yes. My boyfriend will vouch for that. I kind of turn my brain off for some of prep and I shut people out. I am so focused that by the time the show is over I'm mentally and physically exhausted. It has taken me a few days to feel normal again!

Q: The week before a show like that, what were you thinking about? Nervous or excited, or what?
A: I was thinking..."get through today." I was excited to get to Houston and relax for a few days before the show, but for the most part its a matter of just waiting the days out until it gets there. The day of the show is when I actually hit a state of nervousness.

Q: How about those last 5 minutes before you hit the stage, what were you thinking about?
A: I was going through my poses, remembering what to squeeze, and how to hold each. I always tell myself right before I go on stage...."have fun, this is what you have worked for, there's nothing more you can do" It helps me to relax and smile.

Q: When you are on stage did you try and read the judges reactions at all or just focus on what you are doing?
A: I always try to look at the judges and make eye contact, especially when I'm off to the side of the stage in diagonals. I looked at the end two judges and smiled. I think if you make eye contact, they are more likely to remember you and less likely to overlook you.

Q: Whats the first thing you ate once it was over?
A: I first ate a pastry they provided us when coming off stage, then I ate a banana. I always bring a banana for after. I don't know why exactly, but I crave them. I always crave fruit first thing!

Q: Was there any other competitors you noticed who really impressed you?
A: Oh my gosh, there were so many great girls up there and so many girls that I've talked to and admired on facebook and through RX Muscle it was great to see them in person and compete alongside them! I really have to say that Tara Simms Hollingsworth is one of my favorites, she's a great person, great competitor and I really like her physique. Also, even though Cheri Nguyen didn't place as high as I had thought, I was amazed by her physique and how lean she got. That's impressive because I know the dedication it took to get there!

Q: What will be your biggest memory from the entire weekend?
A: I have to say just the overall knowledge and experience I gained from competing at a national level. It has been a goal of mine for some time to compete at a national level that has fallen through in the past due to financial reasons. So, for me this was a personal victory to simply be there and get on stage. Placing was just icing on the cake.

Q: How important is support from family and friends at a show like this?
A: Very important. During successes and failures you tend to find out who your friends truly are. There were definitely a select few that were kept up to date through texts and calls and others that i never heard from. It's always important to know that you have people who support you. Contest prep is a hard thing to go through, mentally and physically and I'm thankful to have people in my life that make it easier, that make it fun, and that I can celebrate with when it turns out well. Also, in this industry, it's amazing how many figure girls band together and support each other through each prep, each contest, win or lose. I love that about these girls!

Q: Have you decided when you will be on stage next?
A: I have. I will be doing Nationals in Atlanta.

Q: Anyone you want to thank for helping you in the process?
A: Yes, I'd love to thank Dan McCaw for being my online chat buddy through all the sleepless nights, and for advice on the week before. I'd love to thank my boyfriend, Dan Reale for putting up with my grumpy days and for allowing me to shut myself away from the world and still being there in the end. I want to thank Christina Taylor for all the love and support through the days leading up to the show and support thereafter. Lastly, I want to thank my parents for coming around and supporting me in my endeavors. Though they don't understand it, they still support me and are proud of me through successes and failures.

Q: Anything you want to take this time to plug or promote?
A:I am looking for sponsors currently, so if anyone sees this and would like to do so, please email me.
Also, look for me at Nationals, and say hi! I love to meet new competitors.

Q: Alicia, again congrats, you really did look incredible. Any last words before you go?
A: I just want to thank you again for your support and your time. And to all of the girls out there wanting to try out figure/fitness/bikini...."you miss 100% of the shots you never take" -Michael Jordan That is something to live by! Get out there and try.

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