Big Lou Uridel's Olympia Picks
Now, seeing as how everyone is focused on who will be Mr. Olympia this year, I figured I would take this opportunity to post my predictions in the other divisions. Keep in mind, these are only from my fan perspective and what I have witnessed in the past years combined with what I am seeing via various photos on the Internet. This is by no means for anything other than pure entertainment value only!
MS FIGURE OLYMPIA
There are definitely a number of names that can be mentioned amongst the top in Figure. Candice Keene, Nicole Wilkins, Heather Dees, Mallory Haldeman, Candice Lewis, Ann Titone, and others. I'm going to break down the placings for this highly competitive division.
6. Ann Titone/Candice Lewis
Ann Titone: On any given day, I can see her coming in as high as 3rd this Olympia. Ann has never cracked the top 6 at the Olympia, but I feel this is her year to shine. Having won three pro figure shows this year and winning her last 4 appearances on stage, Ann quite possibly has some of the best momentum coming into this years Olympia. Her waist is very tiny and she has the ideal V-taper frame for a figure competitor. To top that off, her muscularity is right where it needs to be for a successful placing this year amongst the top competitors in all the land. I am a big Ann-Fan and would love to see her place higher.
Candice Lewis: From a perspective of genetic structure, there are few who can rival Candice Lewis. Having won 4 pro shows of her own (Houston, Ft. Lauderdale, Masters Olympia, and most recently Omaha Pro) and placing in the top 4 of the Arnold Classic, Candice is primed for a great finish this year. If she comes in her best shape, Candice can possibly win the entire show. You might ask why I have her in 5th place. Well, the answer is a bit complex. I am basing this on history and how I "think" the competitors will come in. I believe the 5 women in front of Candice will come in looking their best and as such, will place higher. I cannot control if they do not. If there is even a minor slip up with the four girls in front of Candice, she can win the whole show.
5. Erin Stern:
This is my first BIG shocker in the predictions. I know I'm going to get flack for this one, but I have to call it like I see it - from a fans perspective! Yes, Erin just won the Valienti Gold Cup. Yes, she did get 2nd to Candice Keene at the Australian Pro. Yes, Erin did get 3rd to Candice Keene and Heather Dees (beating Mallory Haldeman) at the Arnold Classic. I believe Mallory will be on her A-Game for the Olympia, I also believe Heather and Candice will bring their best. Erin, in recent shows has been looking more aerodynamic as opposed to figure-esque. While she looks like the commensurate athlete, the 4 women in front of Erin greater exemplify a better figure physique. Again, I have the utmost respect for Erin and being a former college track athlete myself I appreciate her athletic tenacity. However, even with her unrivaled stage presence and good form… I think Erin will fall to 5th opening the door at this show for at least one of the next generation.
4. Mallory Haldeman.
It was very hard for me to put Mallory in 4th. I mentioned above there are very few with the genetic structure to challenge Candice Lewis. Well, Mallory is on that list. When Mallory is on, she is almost unbeatable. She is beautiful, has great stage presence, and amazing balance of condition and muscle. I wouldn't be surprised if she could bypass one of the three girls ahead of her, but I am banking on the fact everyone comes in looking their best. After an early year blemish of finishing 3rd at the Governor's Cup (likely a result of much competition, travel and no rest), Mallory closed out the year with BIG wins in Tampa and Tahoe.
3. Nicole Wilkins.
This would be the second shocker in the predictions. After seeing some progress pictures of Nicole a number of weeks ago, I would have picked her to win the whole thing. Keep in mind, Nicole has EVERY attribute it takes to win the Figure Olympia hands down. This year, I don't think lack of condition is going to be Nicole's issue. I believe her issue will be too much condition. Granted, this can be softened up a bit before the Olympia and Nicole can come in and prove me 100% wrong. I just feel that after the New York Pro and her 4th place finish there, Nicole is pushing extremely hard to prove she can once again be Ms Figure Olympia. I will be rooting for Nicole to place higher, although I believe her condition will end up being too hard for the Olympia stage. If, however, Nicole can nail the condition (not too hard, not too soft) there is not one competitor on this stage who has the genetic structure of Nicole Wilkins or who can match up with her look.
2. Heather Dees:
Big things are popping for Mrs. Dees this year. A second place finish at the Arnold Classic and winning the Governor's Cup started the year off right for Heather. She is arguably one of the most beautiful women in the figure division. When Heather is in shape, her lines, flow and symmetry are undeniable. Heather needs to come in great condition and bring her best presentation. I have seen her nervous on stage before and that could cost her this 2nd position amongst some of the greatest stage presenters in the division. I expect Heather will have conquered her butterflies, and working with Kim Oddo, will vanquish all questions on condition and capture this 2nd place finish.
1. Candice Keene:
When you talk about momentum, you can't say it without mentioning Candice Keene. After winning the Arnold Classic, Australian Pro and the New York Pro, Candice is for lack of better words "on a roll". If Candice Keene can bring her look from earlier this year to the Olympia stage, she will win and be the NEW Ms Figure Olympia. The question mark here is, was her rugged show competition earlier this year too much for her? Can Candice bring that same level of condition and polish to the Olympia stage and do it 2x in the same year? If she can't, there is a whole line up of women who be there to try and take the crown. In my estimation this Olympia is Candice's to win or lose. She determines her own fate here.
All in all, the Figure Olympia is extremely hard to predict and even harder to put down everyone into placings. There are a number of women that are great competitors that I haven't even mentioned here in the top 6. Camala Rodrigeuz, Gen Strobo, Candice John, Kamla Macko, Natalie Waples, etc. Nicole Wilkins is coming for this win like nobodies business. I have her in 3rd, but if she can bring it in perfect, she can be a big challenge to Candice Keene.
Ms BIKINI OLYMPIA
I'll be the first to admit that I am not an expert of judging the IFBB Bikini. I'll be the first to admit that with the elite class of female competitors in the IFBB Bikini Division, it is extremely difficult for me to pick (in order mind you) the top 6 finishers at the Olympia level.
Add in that 4 of the 2012 Olympia top 6 bikini competitors are not in competition this year. (Jamie Baird, Sonya Gonzales, Nicole Nagrani, and Dianna Dahlgren) which leaves the door open for FOUR new competitors to crack into the top 6 and even a shot at the title!
6. NARMIN ASSRIA/CANDICE CONROY:
If you are going by sheer placings and momentum, Candice Conroy would have the edge here for the 6th place. However, she is a relative new comer to the Pro ranks and this isn't Narmin's first Olympia Rodeo. Both have exceptional stage presence which is why I have them in this position. They know how to accentuate their strengths and hide their flaws exceptionally. Narmin and Candice are both beautiful and captivating to watch on stage. If they both come with that amazing stage presence and top-notch condition that has won them both shows this year (Narmin 1st Southern California and Candice 1st Orange County Classic) they could be battling for 5th and 6th in this very tough and hardy lineup.
5. Justine Munro:
Heralded as "the best glutes" in bikini I put Justine in the 5th position. Justine could easily be out of the top 6 or even higher into the top 3 depending on which Justine shows up. Justine has to nail her condition at the correct level to make the best impact. Too conditioned, her physique turns too linear and a tad stringy. Too soft and she just looks a tad out of shape. If Justine hits the sweet spot everything is spot on with her. One thing that is ALWAYS on is her remarkable glutes and glute/ham tie in. If Justine fails to come in exactly as she needs to, I can see Candice bypassing her like she did at the Orange County Classic (where Justine came in 2nd to Candice) and even Narmin Assria pushing past. I am banking on the fact that Justine will have made the necessary corrections to her physique and will come in the 5th spot.
4. Yeshaira Robles.
By all accounts of predictions, Yeshaira should be 3rd place here. Her contest history this year is most exemplary. Having won two of the most prestigious shows of the year (NY Pro and Pittsburgh Pro) she is set up on the momentum run. However, I think the third place finisher here has put some time in and will come in her best condition yet for the Olympia. I wouldn't be surprised at all if Yeshaira finishes 3rd in this years Olympia - she has all the tools, look and flow that one could ever expect or hope for from a Bikini competitor at this level.
3. Amanda Latona.
My favorite bikini competitor of all time? Guilty. When people talk about stage presence and attitude, you can't have the conversation without Amanda Latona. Beautiful and with a remarkable presentation on the stage, Amanda's presence is unforgettable on any stage. She proved that this year by winning the Border States and Sacramento Pro early in the season and taking home a victory in the Greater Gulf later in the season. With three wins under her belt, Amanda is primed to strike. This is the year I predict Amanda will plunge not only into the top 6, but into the top 3. The only thing, in my estimation, that could keep Amanda out of this mix, is coming in with less than stellar condition. If she comes in a little off, she could fall down to 5th or 6th or even out of the top 6.
2. Nathalia Melo.
I know, I might get some flack for putting the reigning Ms Bikini Olympia down in 2nd place, but I do have my reasons! Nathalia, since winning last years OLYMPIA has finished 2nd at the Arnold Classic and 3rd at the Australian Pro (behind Nagrani and Paulino). Momentum has shifted and Melo will be regaled to 2nd place. It's just a feeling I have and nothing more. Does Melo have the ability and tools to be Ms Bikini Olympia again? Absolutely! I just think this year is India's year.
1. India Paulino.
When you talk about momentum in the pro bikini ranks, India exemplifies it. After her 3rd place at the Olympia last year, India has rattled off three 1st place wins. First at the Master Olympia Open Bikini division, 1st at the Arnold Classic and 1st at the Australian Pro. India has beaten Nathalia twice this year. I believe this year's Olympia it's third time it's a charm. A beautiful face, an exemplary bikini body and an on stage presence that has really grown over the last year, I believe India Paulino will be the 2013 Ms Bikini Olympia.