The Fitness International and Figure International have established themselves as annual high points at the Arnold Sports Festival, and this year was no exception. The 2014 lineups were dominated by elite athletes and past high-ranking competitors, but there was definitely room for new contenders to make a name for themselves.
This afternoon, the ladies presented their best physiques and posed, presented, and quarter-turned to a elated crowd packed with fans and supporters. However, there's still plenty to be decided this evening. Here's how the callouts went down.
The 20th annual Fitness International lineup was filled with the creme de la creme of the industry. The same ladies who took top honors at last year's event once again graced the stage and showed they hadn't missed a beat. With five-time Fitness International champ Adela Garcia once again out of the running, there was the chance for new blood to leave with top honors.
The only thing in their way: Tanji Johnson, an incredible competitor who was returning to defend her title. While she'll definitely finish toward the top, crowd favorite Oksana Grishina and Fitness International 2013 third-place finisher Bethany Cisternino also looked worthy of consideration. They all made the first callout, which also brought Trish Warren, Regiane Da Silva, and Michelle Blank to center stage.
Regiane, Bethany, and Tanji showed they were the top contenders when the judges sent them back. Regiane came in with a full upper body, rounded caps, and great back definition, while Bethany, who has placed in the top five in her last five shows, looked confident and poised for a top finish.
Tanji came in conditioned as always, and looked well-balanced in her light blue suit. Depending on what happens tonight, both ladies look prepared to give the reigning champ a run for her money.
The second group of ladies to make callouts were Ryall Graber, Michelle Blank, Oksana Grishina, and Whitney Jones. Oksana came in balanced and highly conditioned without looking too hard, nailing her presentation.
Familiar faces Regiane Da Silva and Ryall Graber also came in with their customary level of conditioning and preparation. Regiane brought a fuller upper body to the stage than the others, while Ryall, who placed sixth at last year's Fitness International, displayed defined abs that stood out in her green suit.
The reigning Ms. Figure International Candice Keene is back to reclaim her crown, and she came in the clear favorite to win. With Nicole Wilkins and Erin Stern out of the picture, the former elite trio is dismantled, and the crown is Candice's to lose. Based on callouts, the judges agree.
After a short presentation and the initial lineups, the judges made their decisions. For the first callout they asked Heather Dees, Candice Lewis, Camala Rodriguez, Candice Keene, and Ann Titone to come forward.
Candice looked amazing and was asked to step back. Despite a shaky presentation, Heather was asked to step back as well. She looks poised for a second-place finish. Ann Titone brought impressive upper body development, and Candice Lewis came in looking with razor-sharp conditioning that showed off her very tiny waist. She looked great and proved that she's a clear threat for the top spots. Camala Rodriguez also looks likely improve upon her sixth-place finish at last year's Fitness International.
The judges then brought out Gennifer Strobo, Alicia Coates, and Ava Cowan forward and compared them to the remaining girls. Although there was some worry that she couldn't hold her own against seasoned veterans, newcomer Alicia brought a tight, toned physique. Ava's comeback has been phenomenal, but she might be docked for coming in too hard. We'll have to wait until tonight to see where everyone falls.
The judges then asked Candice, Camala, and Ann to step back and brought in Allison Frahn, Dana Ambrose, and Amanda Dohnerty.
A lot can change in an afternoon, especially when it comes to the Fitness International. Nothing is final until the routines are through, and they never fail to impress. Be sure to follow the finals of both the Figure International and the Fitness International tonight on Bodybuilding.com to see how your favorite competitors finish!