The 2011 Figure Olympia will be one of the most competitive in years. Erin Stern, the reigning champ, and Nicole Wilkins, the 2009 Olympia queen, genuinely aim to continue their rivalry for the top two spots. Nicole won the 2011 Figure International and notched another victory September 10 at the Tournament of Champions. Erin doesn't want to lose her title and has the Jacksonville Pro title to her credit this year.
Can anyone slip through the Erin vs. Nicole battle? Who will end up in the Top-6? Heather Mae French and Kristal Richardson will sit out this year. They finished third and fourth in 2010. Their loss is the field's gain; some top spots just opened for a few new faces.
Jelena found her stride at the Hartford Pro show where she qualified for the Olympia. She tried her hand at bikini and it wasn't a look she liked. She is one of the most beautiful women in the IFBB Pro ranks, but many times her structure holds her back in the judge's eyes. She genetically has bigger hips than the others and it often throws off her balance. Abbou is a stunning competitor and a fan favorite no matter where she finishes.
Teresa is coming off a second place finish at the Tournament of Champions September 10 and will look to be in the Top-6 here. She took seventh last year and I see her moving up from that spot this time around. She has a tiny waist, nice balance and a look that is worthy of a top spot in every show she enters.
Holly will compete in her first Olympia and even at her all-time best she'll have a tough time with this line up. All she can do is bring her best, present with poise and let the chips fall where they may. Her challenge is bringing a tight bottom to balance her upper body.
Cheryl has been stringing together win after win. We haven't seen her on stage for a few months so we'll have to see if she can bring the same physique she did when she was winning shows earlier in the year. She was outside of the Top-10 last year but I don't see her being there this year unless she comes in way off. I'm not a big fan of her physique, but the judges are and at the end of the day that's what counts. Her biggest challenge is herself. If she can present with a smile and avoid arrogance she'll do well.
Raechelle qualified earlier in the year with a 3rd-place finish at the New Zealand Pro, but when she took the stage in Arizona she looked way out of her league (16th-place). She'll need to come in tighter by a long ways and have a tan. At this level you shouldn't be pasty white and out of shape. I don't see her in the hunt but she can at least redeem herself by what she presents this time around compared to the Phoenix Pro.
Krissy is coming off a 3rd-place finish at the Tournament of Champions and will look to move into the Top-6 here. She tied for 16th last year, a spot no competitor wants to be in. If she can get into the Top-10 she'll be victorious and a Top-6 spot she'll be over the moon. She stripped off some muscle and refined her physique since last year so she could be in the hunt.
Ava is coming off her first pro win at the Europa Super Show and will look to continue those winning ways in Vegas. She was near her best in Dallas when she won and if she brings that to the Olympia stage she'll be in the Top-6. I look for her to be in the 3-5 range.
Heather has been competing all year and I think she was at her best earlier in the year. When she comes in softer, as she did in Phoenix, it doesn't work for her. If she can bring the look she had in Pittsburgh and New York she'll crack the Top-10. If not, she will be chasing a Top-15 spot. My fear is her body is tired and ready for a rest and she'll be on the outside of the Top-10 looking in. We'll have to wait and see.
Darlene turned pro by winning the Arnold Amateur and she followed it up with an Olympia qualification in her pro debut. She packs a ton of muscle and I think it will be too much for this show. I give props to her for her fast-track to this level.
Alice "Smiley" Harris can be in the Top-6 again, she was sixth last year, but she needs to be tighter than she has been this year. She looked good, but not great in Phoenix. She has all the potential in the world and if she can just come in conditioned you will see her in the top callout. If she's not conditioned she'll be fighting for a Top-10 spot.
Ella is the oldest figure competitor to take the stage and she will make women 1/2 her age look out of shape. Ella finished in 3rd-place at the Europa Super Show and is 50-years old. Yes, you read that right 5-0. That is mighty impressive in itself. She has a lot of muscle on her frame and if she can finish in the Top-15, it will be a successful showing.
Candice keeps getting better with each show. She was on the outside of the Top-15 for a number of shows but consistently improved her physique, presentation and the smaller details to qualify for the Olympia. I think she will have a tough time cracking the Top-10 here but we'll see what she brings to the stage.
Candice is coming off a win in Phoenix and will look to be in the top call-out here. She took ninth last year at the Olympia and I look for her to move up into the Top-6. I could see her challenging for third or fourth. The only way Candice isn't in the Top-6 is if she comes in off, at least on my scorecard.
Michele qualified for the Olympia by placing fourth at the Tournament of Champions. She takes some momentum into the Olympia; she's never looked better. She likely won't be in the top callouts, but no one really thought she'd be in the Top-5 last week. Don't rule her out.
Chelsey has a nice look, but it will take more than a pretty face to be in a top Olympia spot. She was in the last callout at the Phoenix Pro and while she wasn't at her best I didn't think she should be that low. I don't see her in the last callout at the Olympia. She'll have her work cut out for her to be in the Top-15 here.
Momma Nagraini will compete in her first Olympia after an impressive pro debut earlier this year. She competes in Figure while her daughter Nicole competes in Bikini. I think this might be the first time that a mother and daughter have competed in the Olympia together. Kristen has a tiny waist and big capped shoulders. If she can finish in the Top-15 here it will be a victory.
Larissa has a good deal of muscle on her frame and many people thought she'd sit out this year and compete in women's physique next year. She could be in the hunt for a Top-6 spot here but it will be tough. She was 10th last year and could be looking at a similar finish in the loaded 2011 competition.
Felicia placed fifth in 2010 and she will struggle to return to the Top-5 again this year. She was way off her best in Phoenix. While I look for her to be improved from that August 27 show, she will face her toughest competition of the in Las Vegas. We'll have to wait and see if she can put it together. Her legs were her weakest part in years past and she's brought them up, but will they match up to the others here?
Monica has a tiny waist and nice structure. She often has her hair in her face and it's not a good look. When you have a pretty face I say show it off; only cover it up if you have a mug only a mother could love. She's been up and down in her placings and can often look timid on stage. If she's poised and in shape, she will be in the hunt for a Top-10 spot.
Erin is the reigning champ and she's come to battle for her title defense. She wasn't at her best at the Figure International and was a bit off her best at the Jacksonville Pro, but from the looks of her current training videos on YouTube, she has the eye of the tiger back. Look for her to be at her best on September 17. It will come down to which look the judges like between her and Nicole. Erin has the more athletic looking physique from her years of track and field, but will it help her leap this field?
Gen is a competitor whom many might envy. While others eat nothing but fish and asparagus, she's eating pancakes. She has a fast metabolism and if she doesn't eat enough and come in full she looks stringy and small. She's added a fair amount of muscle on her frame since turning pro. A Top-10 finish would be a victory for her in my book.
Ann is one of the most persistent competitors. Last year her body looked tired from all the shows she was doing. In 2011, she backed things off a bit and it helped her. I don't see her in the mix here, but making it to the Olympia stage should be considered a victory for her.
Deena was at her best in Dallas when she finished in second place. I don't see her being a contender in this lineup, but if she can finish tied for the 16th spot, the aerospace engineer should be stoked. It's no knock on her, it's just that this lineup will be the toughest she's faced as a pro.
Natalie tried her hand at bikini and it wasn't for her. She made the switch to figure and she was much more at ease. Who knows where she'll finish in this lineup. She's been safe in the Top-3 and has also slipped out of the Top-10 this year. She looked good at the Tournament of Champions and I thought she could have finished higher.
Courtney has been missing in action since the Arnold and who knows what she'll bring to the Olympia stage. She has the potential to be Top-6, but if she's not in shape she won't crack the Top-10. We'll have to wait and see what she brings when she comes out of her Texas cave.
Latisha is no stranger to this stage and will be back to try for a top spot. Can she do it? Yes. Will she, well that's up to the judges. She brings a bit of a booty to the stage, but is usually in good condition. We'll see what the judges think of her this year.
Nicole is after the title she held in 2009 and is on a mission to get it back. We saw a preview in California last weekend when she won the Tournament of Champions. She came in tighter than the Figure International, a show she also won, and she looks to have put on some muscle since then. I noticed her quads and delts added a bit more definition and size to them. She used to be criticized for winning with no muscle. She has the muscle part down, but will it help her win? We'll see.
Alea is one of the few competitors to make the switch from Bikini to Figure and do so successfully. She was at the bottom of the pack when she competed in bikini and was told she had too much muscle. The mother of three showed that she could put that muscle to good use and qualified for her first Olympia. She trains under the watchful eye of Adela Garcia and if anyone knows how to prepare for the big show it's her.
Jami has had quite the year. She went from earning her pro card at the 2011 NPC USAs to qualifying for the Olympia just a few weeks later. That's a pretty impressive accomplishment for anyone. She's one of the few competitors who continues to improve with each show and if that's any indication she will be at her all-time best come Olympia time.
- Erin Stern
- Nicole Wilkins
- Ava Cowan
- Candice Keene
- Teresa Anthony
- Alicia Harris