Hot Off the Presses

2002 Top 25 Nail Competitors

As in past years, veteran competitors John Hauk, Salina Rush, and Lorena Marquez, all familiar with the winner’s circle, set the pace for the competition.


The past year in competitions was marked by continuing trends, for better or worse. Again, the pool of available competitions shrunk, making it more difficult for both veteran and novice competitors to exercise their skills and earn points. Yet while the opportunities to participate may have diminished, determined techs kept the competitive spirit alive.

The old guard of nail competitors held court this year, dominating the top 10 list and maintaining a monopoly on the top three spots. In fact, the 2001 top three competitors reprised their roles in 2002 — just in a different order.

As in past years, veteran competitors John Hauk, Salina Rush, and Lorena Marquez, all familiar with the winner’s circle, set the pace for the competition.

The year also saw the return of a star to the competition stage. Tom Holcomb, who had bowed out of active competition in order to pursue his career as a mentor and educator, made a triumphant return to the circuit and staged an upset at this year’s Nail Olympics as the overall Division III winner. This year’s competitors may very well see him at the 2003 Nail Olympics — as a judge. Holcomb’s strong showing prompted organizers to invite him to return in a judging capacity.

As in the past year, SuperPoints competitions played an important role in determining the Top 25 list. With the increasingly reduced competition opportunities, SuperPoints events allowed large groups of competitors to bolster their point earnings and get the most bang for their buck. The Nail Olympics alone attracted more than 200 competitors from around the world and offered competitions in acrylic, airbrush, nail art, wrap, and gel categories.

Hauk Snags First Place: After six years of competing, John Hauk of Centerville, Ohio, has sculpted, wrapped, and airbrushed his way into the top spot on the Top 25 list.“ My goal this year was to be number one and I had a strategy. I targeted the SuperPoints shows,” he says. “I usually do about eight to 10 shows a year and this year was no different in that respect. I just happened to dominate many of the competitions I participated in.”

Hauk admits that competing can get nerve-wracking,“ Salina Rush, Lorena Marquez, and I are always competing, and it seems like you’re never quite sure who’s in the lead. They win some events, and then I do. It keeps me on my toes, which is good.” Hauk also finds inspiration from former competitor and friend Trang Nguyen of Odyssey Nail Systems in Orlando, Fla. “Trang has really helped me out with the products and I have to give him credit,” says Hauk.

Hauk does not plan to rest on his laurels, however. Having gotten a taste of glory, he’s already established lofty goals for this next year.“ My personal goal is to win everything I’m in,” he says diplomatically.“ Oh, I’m just going to say it. My goal is to be number one again next year — no one’s trying for second.”

Rush Maintains Momentum: Last year Salina Rush of Studio 10 Hair & Nail Design in Wooster, Ohio, took no prisoners. She claimed the top spot in the 2001 Top 25 list, was named NAILS’ 2001-2002 Nail Tech of the Year, and won the 2001-2002 Salon of the Year (1-5 techs) award. In 2002, she cut back a bit — but not by much. “I wanted to stay on the Top 25 list, but I really didn’t want to put all the time and money into it that I did last year,” she says. Rush has other things to worry about. In addition to running her salon, she finds time to teach independent continuing education classes — including one on (surprise, surprise) competing.

Showing true sportsmanship, Rush is delighted with her friend John Hauk’s success.“I am so proud of him,” she says. “He works very hard and he very well deserves to be number one.” And she should know.

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