With a stunning nine first-place wins, Japan’s Eriko Kurosaki captures this year’s top spot on a list comprised of a handful of veteran winners and a surprising number of new faces. Read on to learn the final results and to get acquainted with some of your industry’s finest competitors.
This year's #1 nail competitor is Eriko Kurossaki (left), here with her friend and "rival" Tom Bachik.
Continuing a trend begun by last year’s champ, Alisha Sale, this year’s #1 competitor, Eriko Kurosaki, rose to the top spot without having appeared on any previous year’s list. Kurosaki has been competing internationally for four years after winning big in her native Japan. Judges who’ve marveled over her work say it’s the consistent quality of her nails that puts her in an elite class of nail artists.
Ranked #2 this year, Tom Bachik first entered the competition arena in 1994 and was ranked #1 in 1995. Like Bachik, Amy Cooper-Becker (who became a hyphenate in 1999) debuted on our list in 1994. She’s been on the list every year since, giving her the distinction of the most times on the list — seven in a row.
FOR A FULL LIST OF EVERY YEAR'S TOP 25 COMPETITORS, CLICK HERE.
A bit more Top 25 trivia: The only competitor on this year’s list who was also on our first list in 1993 is Odyssey Nail Systems’ Trang Nguyen, who launched his company in 1998. Not only has Nguyen made six appearances on the list, including a #1 in 1998, he’s gone on to teach and sponsor other winners, including Alisha Sale, David Hoang, and Hidemine Aritou.
In addition to Kurosaki, three other new names appear in this year’s top 10: Salt Lake City-based Kimberlie March, Hanford, Conn’s Trina Van Arsdale, and Denver’s Lyn Bader.
As you may know, we added a new twist to the ranking this year by designating five Super Points competitions. At these events, competitors earn double points for their wins and fourth place earned points too. The purpose of this wrinkle is to reward competitors who win against a stiff field of top techs and to make it easier to earn big without having to attend quite so many competitions.
We think we succeeded in those goals, but with one unexpected result: Four competitors made the final top 25 with a single first-place win at a SuperPoints show. We hope you take this as encouragement to get out there whenever you can, even if it’s just one show. You may be surprised at what good comes out of it.
Note: Due to the fact that several of the previously announced SuperPoints shows for 2001 have eliminated nail competitions, we have made the following changes to the line-up. There will be three SuperPoints shows this competition year: ICE Los Angeles (February 10 -12), Premiere Beauty Show, Orlando, Fla. (August 26-27), and The Great Lakes Beauty Show, Dearborn, Mich. (October 28-29). We hope to see you there!
Han-Kurosaki Claims Top Spot
Tokyo-based nail tech Eriko Kurosaki didn’t start out the year with the goal of becoming #1. but when she found herself with firsts from IBS Long Beach, ICE Los Angeles, and IBS New York early on, she consulted with her pals at EZ Flow and decided to go for it Kurosaki, who co-owns a super-cool salon called Reveal and a nail college in Tokyo, has been a tech for eight years.
“I competed in Japan when I began my career but because of a rule of Japanese competition, I couldn’t continue to compete once I’d taken first place. So I began to compete in the US four years ago,” she explains.
Kurosaki credits much of her success to the tutelage of Tom Holcomb, and her advice to others who want to follow in her footsteps consists of just one word: practice! Kurosaki says her goal for the future is to make, her salon and school #1 in Japan — and maybe the world — in terms of technique and high-quality services.
Outside the work arena, Kurosaki’s passion is fashion.” I buy most of my clothes in Japan, but when I travel, I always set aside the first day of my stay for shopping. Tom calls me a shop-aholic,” she confesses.
Rush Continues Toward her Goals
Louderville, Ohio-based nail tech Salina Rush says her goal is to make the Top 25 list five years in a row. With her # 11 placement this year, she’s got just one year to go “I’d like to try for #1, of course, but my customers — not to mention my husband — wouldn’t like it if I were away so much,” she says. Rush, who recently expanded her Studio 10 Salon to a full-service facility, says she doesn’t know exactly why she likes to compete. “You get addicted,” she says. “I work better under pressure and it’s quite a high when your name is called.”
Early on in her competing days, Rush admits to being intimidated by other competitors “Nowadays, the mood is completely different. It’s less competitive and everyone is willing to share,” she says. After all, if someone can learn something from me and do it better than me, more power to them. It keeps me on my toes.”
Tough Competition for Anzlovar and Bader
This shot featuring #14 Amy Anzlovar (left) and #10 Lyn Bader (center) was taken at Peel’s Salon Services Spring Show Anzlovar took first and Bader took second in the Professional Sculptured Nails competition.
Cooper-Becker Makes It Seven in a Row
Amy Cooper-Becker has the admirable distinction of being the only competitor on our list to make the ranking seven years in a row. What keeps competing fresh for her? “Trying new things. For instance, I haven’t competed once this year with acrylics. Instead, I’ve been using Light Concept gels,” she says Cooper-Becker finds gels to be more flexible, yet stronger than acrylics. “Also there’s no discoloration and you get a shine you just can’t get with acrylics,” she says.
Cooper-Becker owns Masterworks in Mequon, Wis., with her mother; a hairstylist, and her sister, a nail tech and makeup artist. Despite the fact that she has taken firsts in each of the three nail art competitions she’s entered over the years, she does no nail art at the salon. “We’re in a conservative part of the city and I do primarily pink-and-white gels.” she explains.
For Cooper-Becker; continuing to grow as a professional is key to her motivation. “If I stopped learning, I’d stop competing,” she says. After a particularly unpleasant competition experience earlier this year when she clashed with a competition official, she says. “Sometimes what we learn has nothing to do with nails, but with character and how we handle ourselves.”
Domenech-Calabrese Succeeds Despite Challenges
Veteran competitor Bu’ Domenech-Calabrese says competing’ ‘is the best class I’ve ever had I learn tricks at every show.” But victory for the mother of two is bittersweet this year. She didn’t get to compete as much as she had planned this year due to the death of her husband Richard in May.
The owner of Beautiful Nails in New Hyde Park, N Y, Domenech-Calabrese does strictly pink-and-white acrylics in the salon. Her price — $ 100 for a full set and $60 tor fills — sounds steep, but her nails last three weeks between fills and take two hours to complete due to hand problems. Despite her challenges, Domenech-Calabrese’s plans for the future include putting out her own line of acrylics and a custom-made nail table.
Sale Holding Strong in Top 5
Ranked #4 overall, Alisha Sale took first place in the Premiere Beauty Show’s backfill competition. Although Sale has moved back to New York from Florida to be with friends and family she continues to compete for mentor and sponsor Trang Nguyen when needed and says. “My heart belongs to Trang.”