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Figure International: Three Former Champs Go Head To Head

Dangerous curves ahead as these competitors make their final drive to Columbus, and possibly physique history. Who will the new champion be at the finish line?

Figure International: Three Former Champs Go Head to Head

The Figure International is shaping up to be one of the events to watch this year. Three Figure Olympia titleholders will square off for the first time against each other: Jenn Gates, the 2008 champ; and Nicole Wilkins, the 2009 champ; will face reigning champ Erin Stern. The field is full of other worthy competitors as well.

Here's a rundown of the field in Columbus, ranked in no particular order:

Teresa Anthony

Teresa is coming off a strong closing to her 2010 season. The NASA employee has found a way to find her stride in the pro ranks when she captured her first title at the 2010 Border States. Her legs used to be a point of criticism, but she's brought them in line with her upper body. She's definitely a strong contender for a top-six spot.

Teresa Anthony At The 2010 Border States Pro Figure. Teresa Anthony At The 2010 Border States Pro Figure.
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Teresa Anthony At The 2010 Border States Pro Figure.
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Cheryl Brown

Cheryl was out of the top ten at the 2010 Figure Olympia and has her sights set on avoiding that fate. She'll have her work cut out for her in this lineup but it's not impossible. The mother of three has shown that she has what the judges are looking for by notching victories at the Kentucky Pro and New York Pro in 2010.

Cheryl Brown At The 2010 New York Pro Figure. Cheryl Brown At The 2010 New York Pro Figure.
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Cheryl Brown At The 2010 New York Pro Figure.
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Ava Cowan

Ava will be a fan favorite despite this being her first Figure International appearance. She found her groove towards the end of the 2010 competitive season. She ended the year with a runner-up finish at the Ft. Lauderdale Cup. Ava has changed her training up and teamed up with a new coach heading into the show. We'll see how the changes pay off in this highly competitive field.

Ava Cowan At The 2010 Border States Pro Figure. Ava Cowan At The 2010 Border States Pro Figure.
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Ava Cowan At The 2010 Border States Pro Figure.
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Jenn Gates

Call it a comeback! Jenn Gates is on a mission to prove that she left the scene in 2008 with some unfinished business. She's the 2008 Figure Olympia Champ and while preparing for her title defense she found out she was pregnant with her third child. It's been nearly two-and-a-half years since she took the stage but a determined Gates is a dangerous one.

Look for her to pick up where she left off and give the new breed of figure women a run for their money. The only question will be how her physique compares to what the judges are looking for today. I'm guessing she'll be in the mix.

Jennifer Gates At The 2008 Olympia. Jennifer Gates At The 2008 Olympia.
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Jennifer Gates At The 2008 Olympia.
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Alicia Harris

"Smiley" Harris is a bit of an anomaly. She's up. She's down. One thing you can always count on seeing on stage is a big smile from her. (It's a shame the judging isn't done on smiles or she'd be the champ.) When she's in condition she's dangerous and when she's off the mark she's at the bottom of the pack. Which Alicia will show this year is the big question.

Last year she wasn't at her best for the Figure International and ended up at the bottom of the pack. The early shows seem to be a struggle for her but hopefully we see her at her Olympia form, where she placed 6th. Just two points behind Felicia Romero.

Alicia Harris At The 2010 Olympia. Alicia Harris At The 2010 Olympia.
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Alicia Harris At The 2010 Olympia.
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Candice Keene

Candice can be a top six competitor if she brings a look similar to the ones that landed her in the top spots last year. She was 9th at the 2010 Figure Olympia and could improve upon that here, but she'll face a number of the same women. The key to Candice doing well is her off-season. If she didn't have to kill herself with crazy amounts of cardio, she'll be in the mix. If she did, look for her on the outside of the top six.

Candice Keene At The 2010 Olympia. Candice Keene At The 2010 Olympia.
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Candice Keene At The 2010 Olympia.
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Chelsey Morgenstern

Chelsey has a bit of a home-field advantage, being from Ohio. She came on strong at the end of 2010 by finishing second at the Kentucky Pro. This will be her first Figure International appearance.

Chelsey Morgenstern At The 2010 New York Pro Figure. Chelsey Morgenstern At The 2010 New York Pro Figure.
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Chelsey Morgenstern At The 2010 New York Pro Figure.
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Larissa Reis

Larissa returns for her second appearance at the Figure International. She landed in the money last year with a sixth-place finish and will look to match and improve on that again this year. She was in 10th at the Olympia and some felt that wasn't justified. I thought it was on the money and perhaps a little generous.

She packs more muscle than many of the other women and is on that bubble where she could be too muscular. If she brings a small, tight physique, she'll be in the top ten again.

Larissa Reis At The 2010 Olympia. Larissa Reis At The 2010 Olympia.
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Larissa Reis At The 2010 Olympia.
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Natalia Revajova

She's unknown to many who follow the Pro Figure scene, but that's because she has been quiet in her time as a pro. She had a successful career in the amateur ranks but has yet to find her groove in the pro league. She ended 2010 year with some momentum improving to a 12th place finish at the Ft. Lauderdale Cup. Natalia will look to improve upon that at her first Figure International.

Natalia Revajova Lenartova At The 2010 Arnold Amateur International Bodybuilding, Fitness, Figure & Bikini Championships. Natalia Revajova Lenartova At The 2010 Arnold Amateur International Bodybuilding, Fitness, Figure & Bikini Championships.
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Natalia Revajova Lenartova At The 2010 Arnold Championships.
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Felicia Romero

Felicia has consistently been a top contender in every show she enters. She was 5th at not only the 2010 Olympia but also the Figure International. Felicia will have her work cut out for her to go much higher than 5th again this year but it's not impossible. Her legs have always been her weakest point but she continues to improve them. If she can present herself with a smile and poised, look for her to be in a top callout.

Felicia Romero At The 2010 Border States Pro Figure. Felicia Romero At The 2010 Border States Pro Figure.
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Felicia Romero At The 2010 Border States Pro Figure.
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Rosa-Maria Romero

Rosa-Maria will make the trip from Australia and hope to improve upon her 10th place finish from the 2010 event. She could do it but it won't be easy. Rosa-Maria always adds her own flare to posing and we'll see what she brings to the stage this year.

Rosa-Maria Romero At The 2010 Olympia. Rosa-Maria Romero At The 2010 Olympia.
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Rosa-Maria Romero At The 2010 Olympia.
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Monica Specking

Monica was the clear winner at the 2010 NPC Nationals when she took the stage. Everything fell into place for her at that contest, and she'll look to repeat it in her Figure International debut. She placed third in her pro debut at the Houston Pro and has the potential to make a name for herself here. Watch for her to be in the mix for a top six spot her first time out of the gate.

Monica Specking At The 2010 Houston Pro Figure & Bikini. Monica Specking At The 2010 Houston Pro Figure & Bikini.
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Monica Specking At The 2010 Houston Pro Figure & Bikini.
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Erin Stern

The E-Train is on a roll and it's best not to get in her way. She started things with a runner-up finish at the 2010 Figure International and hasn't looked back since. She notched a win at the Orlando Super show and went on to win the 2010 Olympia. She's come a long way since her 10th place Figure International finish in 2009.

Erin will square off against fellow Olympia title holders Nicole Wilkins and Jenn Gates. Look for her to be at her best for this event.

Erin Stern At The 2010 Olympia. Erin Stern At The 2010 Olympia.
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Erin Stern At The 2010 Olympia.
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Courtney West

Courtney won the 2010 NPC USA overall figure title and followed it up with a victory at the 2010 Houston Pro show, her pro debut. She's been relatively quite since then but she's shown that she is a force to reckon with on stage. We'll see what she brings to her first Figure International show and if it's enough to hang at a top-level pro show.

Courtney West At The 2010 Houston Pro Figure & Bikini. Courtney West At The 2010 Houston Pro Figure & Bikini.
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Courtney West At The 2010 Houston Pro Figure & Bikini.
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Latisha Wilder

This will be Latisha's sixth Figure International. She has yet to crack the top five at this show but if she's in shape she could. She'll undoubtedly have a large cheering section at the event, given that she calls Columbus home.

Latisha Wilder At The 2010 Europa Show of Champions. Latisha Wilder At The 2010 Europa Show of Champions.
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Latisha Wilder At The 2010 Europa Show of Champions.
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Nicole Wilkins

Nicole is back to defend her title and is on a mission after being slightly off at the Olympia in 2010, where she finished second. A true test of character is often by watching how a competitor rebounds after a loss. Despite being the current Figure International champ, many consider Nicole an underdog in the lineup.

One thing you don't want to do is underestimate Nicole's will to win. Look for her to be improved from last year's Olympia and make a run for her title defense.

Nicole Wilkins-Lee At The 2010 Olympia. Nicole Wilkins-Lee At The 2010 Olympia.
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Nicole Wilkins-Lee At The 2010 Olympia.
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