Here's To You Ms. Robinson...The 2014 IFBB St. Louis Pro WPD Report
By Steve Wennerstrom, IFBB Women's Historian
Promoters Jack and Ann Titone kicked off the 2014 contest season staging the St. Louis Pro Championships at the Busch Student Center on the campus of St. Louis University on March 8th. As the first event of the year to host a women's pro Physique division competition, curiosity as well as anticipation was high in how the progress of this division would unfold in its third year of existence at the pro level.
A field of 18 contestants representing 10 states and four foreign countries made for a diversified group that brought a challenge to the judging of this event. With a quartet of entrants making their pro debuts to a sprinkling of seasoned veterans who had competed multiple times in Physique division contests, the race was on to become the latest qualifier for the 2014 Physique Olympia to go with collecting a portion of the $3,500 in prize money offered to this division's top three finishers.
An added perk at stake for the winner of this event was the fact that none of the 18 entrants had been a previous winner of a pro Physique contest, and a victory would add their name to a distinguished group of past winners.
In any pro Physique event where fields can range from 10 to 30 competitors, the plots and twists and turns that emerge among the contestants can make for an interesting run at the title. This event was no different, and how the top finishers arrived in the top spots made for an interesting story indeed.
With a first round call-out that included Brazil's Ana Paula DaSilva, Sweden's Frida Palmell, Canadian Lise Thexton, and Americans Gloria Faulls, Danielle Reardon and Jennifer Robinson – which not coincidentally ended up being the final top six – Reardon and Robinson looked to be the duo who grabbed the judges’ attention from the outset. And with Reardon (#57) and Robinson (#58) standing side-by-side throughout the prejudging, judges had plenty of opportunity to size up their qualities.
If there was a primary difference between Reardon and Robinson, it was the notable difference in their stage experience. While Reardon was entering just her second pro Physique event, Robinson was stepping on stage at a pro Physique event for the 10th time dating back to 2012. As one of the division's most enthusiastic entrants, Robinson had entered five contests in 2012 and four in 2013. During that time she had a pair of third-place finishes (both in 2012) to claim as her best efforts.
Meanwhile, Reardon was lost in the shuffle of last year's Europa Show of Champions in Orlando where she finished tied for 16th with 11 other entrants. Jennifer Robinson could relate. Also last year, Robinson suffered an uncharacteristic (for her) 16th-place finish at the Greater Gulf States contest. It was her harshest placement in what had been an otherwise strongly consistent competitive career where placings in the top five were the order of the day.
So, when the final placements came down to this striking duo – a twosome who showed notably different overall physical looks – the final tally saw Jennifer Robinson edging Danielle Reardon by a three-point margin for the St. Louis Pro title. For Robinson, the 10th time was a charm. And clearly Reardon has better days ahead with another 15 WPD events on the schedule before the Olympia in September. In winning, Robinson pocketed $2,000, with Reardon accepting a check for $1,500.
Making an effort to chase down Robinson and Reardon, another in the seemingly endless pipeline of Brazilians, Ana Paula DaSilva, flexed her way into the third-place position with a decidedly more muscular look. A former bodybuilder of some note, DaSilva had previously competed in another organization with good success.
DaSilva had also competed in the 2010 IFBB World Amateur Championships as a lightweight, and was the runner-up at the 2013 Arnold Amateur Classic in Columbus – also as a lightweight. She finished seven points behind Reardon and collected $500 in her pro debut in the IFBB pro division.
At 5-7 3/4 Sweden's Frida Palmell was one of the taller competitors and weighing in the 145-pound range she showed pleasing bodylines. Her highly defined physique with muscle separation throughout her muscle groups didn't seem to affect how the judges viewed her overall stage presentation. This was Palmell's first top-five placing in the pro Physique division having finished tied for 16th in last year's PBW Tampa Pro, and ninth at the Toronto Supershow in 2012. A veteran bodybuilding competitor, Palmell had finished as high as second at the 2005 Swedish National Championships.
Placing fifth was New Jersey's Gloria Faulls. Competing in her sixth pro Physique division event, she has been consistent in her pro efforts compiling a fourth at the Greater Gulf States and fifth at the Valenti Gold Cup in 2012, and sixth at the 2013 Greater Gulf States. Faulls earned her pro status at the 2011 IFBB North American Championships where she placed second in the Physique division. Here, Faulls showed nice conditioning and well-detailed abs as a centerpiece of her physique. In total she showed a strong stage that mirrored her confidence and was reflected in her overall look.
Canadian Lise Thexton was the sixth member of the first prejudging call-out and when the final judging tallies were made official, she fell just one point shy (27 to 28) of Gloria Faulls in fifth. Making her pro debut at this event, Thexton made a strong first impression with plenty of confidence to go with a balanced structure and beautifully shaped biceps as her strongest calling cards.
Outside the Top Six
7- Jayla McDermott, Texas 36
8- Jill Dearmin, Florida 42
9- Tracy Weller, Georgia 43
10- Shannon Byers, Canada 50
11- Marnie Holley, Canada 55
12- Anne Marie Lasserre, Australia 62
13- Ann Marie Kam, Oregon 63
14- Misty Ali, Virginia 72
15- Lisette Acevedo, New York 76
16- Delia McNeil, Colorado 78
17- Danielle Deck, Illinois 80
18- Leonie Rose, Florida 80
Next up on the WPD calendar is Jon Lindsay's Pro Grand Prix in Los Angeles on April 12th.