Isaac Hinds' 2009 Arnold Classic Preview: Female Competitors!

This is the first IFBB competition of 2009 and for the women its sure to kick the year off with a bang. A number of familiar names and faces will be back along with some newbies. Which will prevail in the various competitions - experience or youthfulness?

This is the first IFBB competition of 2009 and for the women it's sure to kick the year off with a bang. A number of familiar names and faces will be back along with a few newbies. Which will prevail in the various competitions... experience or youthfulness? Look for a variety of both in the top six of each competition.

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Ms. International
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dot 1. Iris Floyd Kyle: dot

    Iris is in a league of her own and is damn near unbeatable. That's not to say she is though. Last year she was out of the top six due to a few suspicious lumps and bumps on her physique. She took care of the problem before the 2008 Olympia and showed why she'll go down in history as one of the best female bodybuilders ever. It's doubtful anyone will match her conditioning and look for her to leave Columbus with top honors once again.

dot 2. Yaxeni Oriquen-Garcia: dot

    She is the defending champ but will have her work cut out for her to repeat. She slipped to third at the 2008 Olympia but look for her to be in the top callout. She packs more muscle than Iris but has a difficult time matching her conditioning.

dot 3. Dayana Cadeau: dot

    Dayana is always competitive but has yet to taste victory at this event. She placed second behind Yaxeni by two points in this contest last year. Can she overcome the odds and prevail this year? Anything is possible but I don't see her winning this show. She will be in the top six, you can take that to the bank.

dot 4. Betty Viana-Adkins: dot

    Betty showed she isn't washed up and can still battle for a top spot. She was seventh in this show last year but jumped to second at the '08 Olympia. She could be as high as second or find herself on the outside of the top six looking in. It all depends on which physique Betty brings to the stage.

dot 5. Heather (Policky) Armburst: dot

    Heather could (and when at her best should) be compared to the top physiques in this show. Heather is her own worst enemy. If her head is in the game she'll be in the top callouts. If she's not mentally into it she'll be on the outside of the top six. She has an incredible physique and some of the best wheels of any IFBB pro, including the men. It's a crap shoot which Heather we'll see but I'm hoping to see her return to the 2007 form.

dot 6. Cathy LeFrancois: dot

    She was sixth in this show last year and could see her placing here once again. She lacks the size of some of the other competitors but makes up for it with her conditioning. Last year she was in tremendous shape and held her own with the more muscular women. Look for her to be in the top 2 callouts again this year.

dot The Rest Of The Pack: dot

    A number of quality competitors will be making a return to the stage and could make a case of a top six spot. Betty Pariso was in fourth last year and could be in the mix again this year. Brenda Raganot has a tremendous physique and was in fifth last year. Could she repeat again this year? Certainly.

    The wild card to watch out for in this lineup is Isabelle Turell. This rookie has an amazing physique and if she comes in conditioned she will shake things up for the seasoned vets. We'll have to wait and see if she can shake the first time jitters and land in a top six spot but she is certainly capable of it.

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Fitness International
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dot 1. Jen Hendershott: dot

    She's been the brides-maid the last two years at this contest but I don't see a three-peat for Hendershott. Returning to her home state she'll have the crowd rockin with her routines. Can anyone beat her? Sure but don't count on it being this show. She's the current Ms. Fitness Olympia and with Kim Scheidler (Klien) retired I look for her to take the Fitness International crown. It's been four years since she was victorious on this stage so she's hungry for an Arnold win.

dot 2. Julie Palmer: dot

    Julie has gone from seventh in 2006 to fifth in 2007 and third last year. Don't be surprised if Julie continues to improve on her placings this time around. She will be in the top callouts for the physique rounds and with Adela and Kim out of this lineup should win the physique rounds. The big question is what type of routine will she bring to the stage. She hast to bring a ton of energy and knock it out of the park to be in the spot. Her routines have drastically improved over the years and if they've improved yet again look for her to be in the running for a top three spot.

dot 3. Tracey Greenwood: dot

    Dr. Greenwood was fifth at this show in 2008 but since that time has been on a mission. She lit up the stage the remainder of the '08 season and finished in second behind Hendershott at the Olympia. She'll be in the mix for the top spot. She has tremendous strength skills that help propel her to high scores in the routine rounds. It'll be a question of where she lands with the physique scores. Look for her to be in the top three spots, which spot is the question.

dot 4. Nicole Wilkins-Lee: dot

    I might be a bit premature in this prediction but I see Nicole as the future of fitness. She's competing against a number of seasoned veterans but can hold her own. She'll have to really come in top shape and nail her routines to be in the top six. She is my long shot prediction in fitness but I am basing it off from her potential. Last year we saw her competed in figure and make it to the Olympia stage in that discipline. I look for her to return to the Olympia stage in fitness but will it be by way of qualifying at this show? A very strong possibility but it won't be an easy road.

dot 5. Tanji Johnson: dot

    Tanji has he sights set on the top spot. She's tasted victory in the smaller fitness shows but has yet to win a big title like the Fitness International or the Olympia. Can she do it? Definitely. Will she do it here? Remains to be seen but she'll have to come in with a better conditioned physique than she has in the past. She's consistently a 4-6 competitor the last couple of years and she'll need to be at her all time best in all disciplines to move into the top three.

dot 6. Regiane Da Silva: dot

    This woman is crazy. Crazy good. She flies through the air and has amazing energy when she performs her routines. She was in sixth place at the 2008 Olympia as well as the '08 Fitness International. Look for her to be in the mix again this year and bring an entertaining routine to the stage.

dot 7. Oksana Grishina: dot

    Oksana burst onto the IFBB Fitness scene in 2007 and wowed the crowd with her routine. She took the top spot in the two minute routine at her Olympia debut but since that time has slipped in the wow factor. Oksana comes from a very disciplined gymnastic background and despite what many say about her routine it is one of the best you'll ever see. She makes the strength moves look easy but they are anything but a walk in the park. She tells me she'll be bringing a new routine with more energy and has improved her physique. When I saw her a few weeks out from this show she looked on track with her physique and should hold her own in the top ten.

dot 8. Mindi O'Brien: dot

    Canada's most consistent fitness competitor is back to shake her booty again. Mindi is one of the 6-10 competitors who continues to look to crack the top five in a big show. Plagued by injury in the past look for her to bring a more streamlined physique to this year's show. She's been criticized for being too muscular in the past but has refined things over the last couple years.

dot 9. Shannon Meteraud: dot

    Ah the veteran is back! The last time we saw Shannon competing in the Fitness International was 2003. Shannon is coming off an injury that kept her out of the 2008 Olympia and determined to show that like fine wine she's gotten better with time. She carries a muscular physique which suits her better for fitness than figure and look for her to be in the mix for a top 10 spot.

dot 10. Bethany Gainey: dot

    Thirteenth at this show last year, she brings a solid physique and routine to the stage. She'll place better in the physique rounds than the routine but if she has improved her routine look for her to move even higher in the final spots.

dot The Rest Of The Pack: dot

    Rookie Jessica Clay will look to make a name for herself at this show. Tina Durkin will look to improve upon her 11th place showing from last year. Heidi Fletcher-Sullivan can be in the top six but only if she brings a conditioned physique. It's always a question on which Heidi will show up.

    If she brings the package she brought to her West Palm Beach showing, look out she's dangerous otherwise she'll be on the outside of the top ten again. Erin Riley could and most likely will crack the top ten at this show.

    She brings a unique style to the routine round. I think she carries too much muscle for fitness, especially her back. If she shed a bit of muscle and improved her physique look for her to be in the top 6 mix.

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Figure International
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    I would NOT want to be a judge at this competition. This line-up is stacked from top to bottom and is one of the more impressive line-ups you'll see. Clearly anything can happen but here's my breakdown of the Figure lineup.

dot 1. Gina Aliotti: dot

    She's the defending champ and will look to repeat again this year. She is border-line "too muscular" but most of that has to do with her presentation. When Gina doesn't over-pose or flex her quads she does fine. If she stays relaxed, smiles and brings the same physique she did last year to this show you will see her repeat.

dot 2. Zivile Raudoniene: dot

    She's won the New York Pro Figure twice and put herself on the map at last year's Olympia by placing third, just two points behind Gina. I'm torn with Zivile. She's a very striking woman and has a great look but I question whether she'd be better suited as the face of the pro bikini division that is on the horizon. She doesn't carry as much muscle as some of the other competitors but still has a great physique. I'll leave it to the judges to decide but you can't help but notice her every time she is on stage.

dot 3. Adela Garcia: dot

    Adela always does well in the physique rounds when she competes in Fitness. There is no denying she has a good physique and she'll remind everyone here. I look for her to be in the top six but where is up in the air. She's taken some time off to recover from a knee injury but she appears to be on track and doing well. Look for her to shake things up for the figure girls.

dot 4. Erin Stern: dot

    I look for her to make some major waves in her pro debut. She has an incredible physique and will make her presence known immediately in the pro ranks. She is one of the taller competitors in the line up and if she is next to Adela she may dwarf her. Erin has the potential to be the next breakout star in the figure ranks. When you see her stride on stage in Ohio you'll see what I am talking about.

dot 5. Amy Fry: dot

    You don't hear a whole lot from Amy Fry during the season. She lets her physique do the talking. Another tall competitor who fairs well look for her to be in the top couple of callouts. She was third at this show last year and will look to be in the mix again this time around.

dot 6. Lenay Hernandez: dot

    Lenay burst onto the scene last year and had an impressive season. She turned pro in April at the NPC JR USA by winning the overall figure title. She went on to place second in her pro debut and finished the year out with an 11th place finish at the Olympia. Look for her to move up and be in the top two callouts. This will be her first time on the Arnold stage which means you can count on seeing her smiling ear to ear and bringing and improved physique.

dot 7. Sonia (Adcock) Gonzales: dot

    Sonia is often criticized for her legs lacking behind her upper body. One thing is undeniable she has an exotic look that keeps your attention. If she's brought up her legs she'll be higher than 7th. If she brings the same look as the Olympia look for her to be out of the top six in this competitive line-up.

dot 8. Monica Brant: dot

    Mo is back on stage and the fans adore her. Where she places could be in the mix of the top three or out of the top six. There is no denying she is an icon in the industry and will always be a fan favorite. The question is whether or not her physique matches up with some of the younger figure competitors. I think it will and she'll show why she belongs on the stage. I'd like to see Monica in the top couple of callouts but we'll have to wait and see if the judges agree and move her higher than 8th.

dot 9. Kristal Richardson: dot

    She has dramatically improved and continues to get better every show. She was seventh at the Olympia and had her best showing as a pro. Kristal's legs are still her downfall but they are slowly catching up with her upper body. I wouldn't be surprised to see her higher than this ninth place spot if she made improvements from September.

dot 10. Huong Arcinas: dot

    Head to toe I think Huong is the most complete figure competitor in the pro ranks. You'd never guess by looking at the photos that she is under 5'0" and weighs under 100lbs on stage. She has a deceptive physique that makes her able to hang with the taller physiques. She has no pressure coming into this show as she won the Sacramento Pro which qualified her for the 2009 Olympia. I would like to see Huong higher than 10th place but in this lineup she'll have her work cut out for her.

dot 11. Felicia Romero: dot

    Felicia is another one that I put in the mix with Zivile. Striking good looks and a nice physique but doesn't carry the same amount of muscle the other women do. Her legs continue to plague her from placing high in the big contests. She's won a couple smaller shows but when it comes to the big shows she often finds herself out of the top callouts. She tells me she's worked on improving her weak points and is ready to show them off at this show.

dot 12. Chastity Slone: dot

    She always places well at this show but not at others. She has a nice physique but is hit or miss when it comes to her placings. If history repeats itself I will be eating my words and she'll be in the top ten. If the judging is like the Olympia she'll be at the bottom of the pack.

dot 13. Heather Mae French: dot

    The judges have rewarded the look Heather has been bringing to the stage lately. She was tenth at the Olympia and could be in the top ten again but this lineup will be tough for her to hang with the women that carry more muscle than her.

dot 14. Latisha Wilder: dot

    Latisha will probably be much higher than this place because she consistently places well in this show. She was at the bottom of the pack at the Olympia. We'll have to see which way the judges decide to go with her this time around.

dot 15. Brenda Marie Smith: dot

    Brenda is a wildcard. She won the Kentucky Pro Figure show so you might wonder why I have her so low in my predictions. No disrespect to the women in the Kentucky Pro but this is an entirely different lineup and she has struggled to break into the top ten for the big shows.

dot 16. Georgina Lona: dot

    She has a nice physique and was a show stopper at the North Americans where she turned pro. I think she hurt herself by coming into the Kentucky Pro and missing the mark. She was tied for 16th there and looked nothing like what she did when she turned pro. If she can bring the physique she did when turning pro she'll be higher but it remains to be seen.

dot 16. Juliana Malacarne: dot

    I love her physique and think it is one of the best in the pro ranks however compared to the other women in this lineup she is too muscular. She was 12th in the lineup last year. I'd like to see Juliana go back to lifting heavy put on just a little bit of size and compete in bodybuilding. Those of you who are fans of muscle will adore her physique and have her much higher.

dot 16. Sherlyn Roy: dot

    She took top honors in New York at Team Universe and will be making her pro debut here. She has a nice physique but I would be surprised if she cracks the top ten. Not that she isn't able to but simply because the level of competition here is some of the toughest she'll ever face.

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Conclusion
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This is one of the most impressive groups of women ever to take an IFBB stage. Make sure you get your tickets now to catch all the action or if you're unable to attend you watch the show on the live webcast.