Depending on who you ask, the Arnold Classic is either the second biggest or THE biggest show of the IFBB Pro season; and the kick off is only a mere one week away! According to industry leaders, this show WILL be bigger and more exciting than ever. Yes, you hear that every year, but it’s true! In 2015, the IFBB Pro league added Men’s and Women’s Physique divisions, and the sports festival itself has added chess, WWE, soccer, and rowing. Another change is that they’ve eliminated the women’s bodybuilding division. There is also a slight change of venue; the ASF will no longer use Veteran’s Memorial for the bodybuilding events, but rather, move them to the Greater Columbus Convention Center. SO MANY CHANGES!
But I digress; that’s the Arnold Sports Festical in general, and this article is specific. With all the new excitement going on this year, let’s talk about the ladies who are potential Ms. International winners.
I’m going to be honest here – This is going to be ONE. TOUGH. RACE. A few of the women competing in this division won pro shows in 2014; it wasn’t as though one woman swept them all. Oksana took the O home, so she’s going to get the W here. But other than that, the truth is, it’s anyone’s game. Your guess is as good as mine.
Winner: Oksana Grishina – Beautiful. Poised. Elegant. Athletic. Creative. OVERALL HELLA IMPRESSIVE. Need I say more about the super-human, ridiculouness that IS Oksana? Why she didn’t get her first Olympia until 2014 is beyond me. But I think she’ll get the Fitness International title for the second year in a row.
Runner up: Regiane Da Silva – Wherever Oksana is, Regiane is literally just a step behind. Be it the 2014 Arnold Classic or the 2014 Olympia, Oksana and Regiane were the one-two punch. She placed 2nd at the Arnold Brazil and the Arnold Europe in 2014 as well. So I see her placing 2nd again in 2015. Like Oksana, Regiane is exceptionally athletic. Her only downfall might be that her physique is incredibly dense and hard. She’s hard and dry, but may not have the feminine, flowy lines judges are looking for.
Dark horse: Ryall Graber – Having done no fewer than 4 shows a year since 2011, Ryall Graber’s middle name is “consistency.” She brings an incredible package to the stage every time: Shape, size, conditioning and a solid routine. This is an athlete who won the Arnold Brasil and the Toronto Pro shows back to back in 2013 – she definitely has aces up her sleeve. Ryall placed as high as 3rd at the Europa Phoenix in 2014, so I think she’ll make an impact at the AC this year.
This is always a fun category because it’s still new to the IFBB, so there’s not exactly an established Queen in this division (like Iris Kyle in female bodybuilding). Ashley Kaltwasser would be the closest we have however, winning the Olympia in 2013 and 2014, and also taking the AC last year. Beyond that, the 2nd through 5th places are wide open, and anyone’s for the taking.
Winner: Ashley Kaltwasser – Queen Ashley. This kid (I say “kid” because she’s only 26 years old) has quite an impressive resume for only being in the game a couple of years! Let’s start with the prestigious ones: 2 Olympias, 1 Arnold Classic, and 1 New York Pro. These are in addition to 2 Toronto Pro wins, Korea Pro, Sheru Classic, and Australian Pro titles all between 2012 and 2014. Moral of the story: Ashley Kaltwasser is a boss, and I don’t see her losing her standing any time soon.
Runner Up: India Paulino – India Paulino is one competitor with a SOLID track record. She has 8 first place finishes in 4 years, and a slew of 2nds and 3rds, too. 2014 was a big year for her, having competed 6 times. That rigorous schedule may have taken a toll on her body though, as her placings dropped a little at the bigger shows, placing 6th at both the Arnold and the Olympia in 2014. Chances are, however, that she’ll want to redeem herself, and prove that she IS a first place, first-rate IFBB Bikini Pro, who can hold her own, and hang with Ashley K in the top two.
Dark Horse: Janet Layug – I like her. I don’t know what it is, but I just have a good feeling about her. Maybe it’s because in her first year as an IFBB Pro, she placed 7th at the Arnold, 1st at the Battle of the Beach Pro, and 2nd at the Olympia. Ya, ok, maybe that’s why I like her. Because she’s a rookie whose resume doesn’t read like one. If anyone can come out of nowhere and place Top 3 in the Ms. Bikini International, it’s Janet.
Winner: Candice Keene – In 2011, she was 8th at the Arnold and 4th at the Olympia. In 2012, 3rd and 3rd. 2013 saw her take 1st and 3rd, and in 2014 she won the Arnold again and placed 2nd at the Olympia. There’s no doubt in my mind that calling Candice to win the AC for the third year in a row is a sure thing. She, to me, is the epitome of class and poise, and a perfect balance of muscular and feminine.
Runner Up: Candice Lewis – Candy Lewis is a star. 2012 was her best year, racking up 5 first place finishes out of 7 shows. 2013 saw her take fourth at the Arnold Classic, and she placed 5th in 2014. But she’s been doing fewer and fewer shows each year, probably to give her body a break, and allow herself adequate time to peak properly. So my thought process is that having only done 3 show in 2014, she’ll be fresh and ready to rumble with the big girls in 2015.
Dark Horse: Ann Titone – This is only the 3rd Arnold Classic for Ann, which is hard to believe given that she’s done 28 Pro shows since turning pro in 2009! In 2013, she placed 11th at the AC, and in 2014, she was 4th. That’s an INSANE, meteoric rise! So who knows where she could go from here? She also placed 4th at the Olympia, and won the Dallas Europa pro, so she really is a front-runner for the Arnold Classic this year.
The great thing about the women’s physique division is that it’s still relatively new to the sport, so the competitors’ pool is always diversified and changing. The confusing thing about the women’s physique vision is that it’s still relatively new to the sport, so the competitors’ pool is always diversified and changing. Are you following? Whenever a new category is introduced, it takes the judges (and the spectators) a little bit of time to figure out what they like. Juliana, Dana Linn and Tycie all have different looks. 3 competitors, 3 looks. Probably makes things hard on the judges. So here’s my best educated guess about who’ll take the Ms. Physique International title.
Winner: Juliana Malacarne – How do you go from 13th at the Arnold Classic in 2009 to 1st at the Olympia in 2014? Crazy work ethic, and a serious drive never to feel like 13th place again. I can only assume that’s what’s been driving Juliana Malacarne since for the last 5 years – a constant inner voice and intrinsic motivation to always strive for the best. And ‘best’ she got in 2012, 2013, and 2014 when she won the New York Pro back to back to back, and then finished off 2014 by becoming the second Ms. Physique Olympia in history.
Runner Up: Dana Linn Bailey – Like her or hate her, you have to give Dana Linn Bailey credit for the name she’s made for herself. This woman has a stronghold on social media, and you cannot escape the DLB craze! With that said, she also happens to be a phenomenal athlete. She won the Dallas Europa and the inaugural Ms. Physique Olympia in 2013, and then placed second to Juliana in 2014 at the O. So here’s hoping that she can at least hold on to her second place, if not best it, at the AC this year.
Dark Horse: Tycie Coppett – I want her to take it, I really do. She’s got beautiful, clean lines, exceptional symmetry, full muscle bellies, and comes in with insane conditioning while balancing it with her feminine side. To me, she’s not too hard, nor too soft. Her competition history isn’t too shabby either, having placed 2nd at the Ms. Physique Olympia in 2013, and 3rd at the 2014 Ms. O. Tycie only did show in 2014 which leads me to believe she was really saving herself, and making sure she had a solid off-season so that she could steam roll in to 2015 and take a win.