Sixteen of the top female physiques in the world will take the stage at the Figure International this weekend at The Arnold Sports Festival. The biggest question looming: Can anyone come between the Figure rivalry that has developed between Nicole Wilkins and Erin Stern?
Nicole got the better of Stern all but once in the last few years. Let's break down the competition and see who has the best chance to shake Arnold's hand Friday night.
2012 Figure International Competitors
Jelena is without a doubt one of the most beautiful women in the IFBB. She claimed that right by gracing the covers of magazines and getting commercial modeling work. She managed to bring her lower body in balance with her upper body last year and if she brings that look to this stage she will be a contender.
Jelena is the perfect example: you don't have to win shows to be successful in the fitness industry.
Look for Teresa to make a run at the top-3. She brought her legs up and like fine wine she gets better each year. I like the look she brings to the stage and I wouldn't be surprised if she is in the mix for the top-3.
I'll be shocked if she is out of the top-6. She positions herself as a contender in every show she enters. She was fifth at the Olympia and won the last two shows she entered in 2011. Look for her to take that momentum to her best showing yet.
Cheryl refined her physique a bit over the years and positioned herself as a top contender. I'm not a big fan of her physique personally, but the judges like what she brings to the stage. I give her props for stringing together a number of wins since turning pro in 2009.
The biggest thing holding Cheryl back is herself. If she smiles, presents with confidence and is in shape, look for her to be in the first two callouts.
Krissy tends to do well at smaller shows, but when it comes to the bigger shows she's on the outside looking in. She's coming off a 2nd-place finish at the Border States and will look to bring that momentum to Columbus.
She streamlined her physique over the last year. This is a good move; she was getting a bit too muscular and it was taking away from her shape. If she can get into the top-6 here it will be a success for her.
Ava has her sights on breaking up the Stern/Wilkins battle and has the potential to do it. She placed third at this show last year and was third behind the duo at the Olympia. If she brings her best look to the stage, she will be in the hunt.
Since switching up her training and working with Kim Oddo, she's contended in every show she enters.
Heather switched her training and will unveil her "new look" at this show. She appeared a bit thick-waisted in the past and look for her training changes to help correct that, or at least give the illusion of it.
She started 2011 strong, but progressively faded with each show. Let's see if the time off served her well and she can bounce back from a 13th Olympia finish.
Alicia is coming off a win at the 2011 Ft. Lauderdale Cup. Let's see if her first pro win motivated her to stay on her game and bring that physique to the Arnold stage. She's had a habit of starting slow and finishing strong.
She has the potential to be in the top-5 here, but her last two trips to this stage have produced a 17th and a 14th-place finish. Which Smiley will show up on Friday?
Raquel was the 2011 Arnold Amateur overall winner and received an automatic invite to the big dance. Her biggest challenge will be posing and if her physique is in line with what the IFBB judges are looking for in the states.
There tends to be a trend of the newbies coming in a bit too muscular and too hard. We'll see how she adapts in her debut.
Candice is another leading lady who hopes to shake things up in the top-2. She is coming off a 3rd-place finish at the Sheru Classic and will undoubtedly be a contender here. She was 8th at this show last year and hasn't finished out of the top-5 since.
Candice found a winning formula for her physique and if she brings a similar body from last year, look for her to be in the top spots again.
Gloria will hope the hometown crowd can give her a boost in her pro debut. She was a consistent contender in the NPC ranks and will look to make an impact in her first show as an IFBB Pro.
The biggest challenge will be hanging with the seasoned pros, who will have a few inches on her. Shorter contestants get lost in the shuffle when standing next to the women 4-6 inches taller than them.
Sue will make her IFBB Pro debut after turning pro at the North American Championships. She has a tiny waist and nice shoulders but her legs will lag behind the pros on this stage.
If she can crack the top-10 it will be a successful showing. You can count on her being all smiles as she takes the stage in front of a hometown crowd.
Larissa brings more muscle to the stage than most of the women in this lineup. She was 11th at this show last year and I see her in the 9-to-11 spot again this year. She is a fan favorite, but I think we'll see her get marked down for packing too muscle on this stage.
I'd like to see her work on her posing a bit more; I think it could help her placings, especially from the back.
The E-train is full steam ahead and looking to take out the champ. She was able to do it at the 2010 Olympia and has to be a little tired of finishing in Nicole's shadow. Can she defeat Nicole?
Yeah, but it won't be easy. She'll need to bring a little more streamlined physique to the stage than we've seen and I think we will see that. Look for her to take the stage with a little less muscle than in years past and a little lighter, which should suit her well.
Strobo is another competitor who struggled in big shows. She held her own in the smaller events but finished out of the top 10 at the Olympia. You don't want to be around her before a show; you'll see her eating pancakes and shoveling down food like a hungry man at an Old Country Buffet line.
If she doesn't eat up, she looks stringy on stage. If she can stay full and bring a polished look to the stage she'll crack the top-10.
Latisha has been competing for years, but we seen less and less of her on stage. She last competed at the Olympia where she finished 8th. She was 9th on this stage last year and will look to move up this time around.
I give her props for the longevity she's shown in the division; we rarely see competitors take the pro stage for more than 8 years. She'll have the hometown support behind her and will look to do them proud once again.
The champ is back! Nicole will defend her title for the third time. One thing people forget is how far Nicole has come over the years. She was 11th at the 2008 Figure International and 8th at the 2009 International. She's only lost once since 2009 and that came at the hands of Erin Stern.
Will we see her slip out of the top spot here? They say to beat the champ you have to knock her out … we'll have to see if anyone can do that Friday.
- Nicole Wilkins
- Erin Stern
- Candice Keene
- Ava Cowan
- Teresa Anthony
- Cheryl Brown
Pre-judging takes place at noon on the Convention Center Expo stage. The finals take place at the Veteran's Memorial Auditorium at 7 p.m. on Friday night.