Progress. Growth. Looking to the future. The 2014 competitive season for the pro Women's Physique Division was a winner at several levels, and all of which point to a future within the division that will likely bring excitement and anticipation in the coming years. How could it not? As has been said on countless occasions – numbers don't lie. And the numbers created by the cast of characters who make up this division have provided a stunning array of physiques that have propelled – at warp speed – the growth and quality that already has fans waiting anxiously for the new season of Olympia-qualifying events to begin.
Some Numbers To Consider
In 2012 when the pro Physique division was inaugurated and there was not yet a scheduled Olympia for this division. Still, 13 events were staged with 102 different competitors accounting for a total of 191 entries. But as might be expected, the 2013 season gained considerably more interest due to the inclusion of a first-time Physique Olympia. In 11 contests including the Olympia, 128 contestants helped balloon the total entries to 262, in addition a single contest after the Olympia that would count as a qualifier for the 2014 season.
Which brings us to the 2014 season. Promoters offered up a total of 18 pro Physique division events including the Olympia and swelled the number of competitors to 149 with 317 total entries. Very encouraging stats to be sure.
The range of entries per event varied widely from 36 at the PBW Tampa Pro (the largest show to date was the Tampa Pro contest last year drawing 39 entries), to 10 at the LA Grand Prix. But the average over the 18 contests was a healthy 22 contestants per show compared to 15 contestants per show in 2012.
But There Were Numbers Within The Numbers
The contestants themselves have been pivotal in the growth of this division and the 2014 season uncovered a vast array of significant as a well as interesting numerical accomplishments ranging from great, to surprising, to perplexing. From the historical perspective, first-time accomplishments will never change. Karina Nascimento won the first pro Physique Division event in 2012, and Dana Linn Bailey became the first-ever Physique Olympia winner last year, while Juliana Malacarne became the first competitor to win a contest (the New York Pro) in three successive years as well as becoming the first competitor to win five career pro Physique events.
And within the 43 pro Physique division contests that have been held since 2012, there have been additional multiple winners. Sabrina Taylor and Tamee Marie have each won four contests. Sarah Hurrle, Patricia Mello and Karina Nascimento have won three. Dana Linn Bailey, Karin Hobbs, Samantha Hill, and Nola Trimble have won two each; with another 13 competitors contributing a single contest each. This group of 22 winners of a pro Physique contest of the past three years points up the wide variety of competitors who have been judged as an ideal look by the judging panels who have chosen those winners – a reality that will serve to heighten the motivation for additional women who will enter this class of competitors in the immediate future.
As more outstanding NPC competitors move into the pro ranks, as well as bodybuilders and figure competitors already at the pro level continuing to hone and cultivate their respective looks to fit the criteria, there will no doubt be an ongoing attraction to this division by both aspiring competitors as a well as new fans who are following the progress of the style of physique that will continue to evolve.
As interesting as the contests are, the individual competitors are the prime ingredients to making up the fabric of a given event. And some set themselves apart by their mere presence. Here are some graphic examples:
Over he three-year history of the pro WPD a handful of competitors have been persistent in their desire to be part of the growing division. The leader in this rush to the stage is Colorado's Marina Lopez who has entered 13 contests overall. Impressive in that number is the fact that she entered seven contests in a row at the beginning of the inaugural year. Right behind Lopez are three competitors who have entered 12 contests over the three years. Specifically, Jill Rudison entered her 12 events all in 2013 (seven) and five this year. LaDrissa Bonivel and Jennifer Robinson entered their 12 events evenly over the past three years. Close behind is Mikaila Soto who has competed in 11 pro WPD events and stacked seven of them in 2012, followed by four last year. She took the 2014 season off from the competitive stage to fully recover from health issues. The five are clearly a stalwart and devoted bunch.
With 17 Pro WPD events staged between the St. Louis Pro in early March to the Physique Olympia in late September, the busiest competitors were Roxie Beckles, Gloria Faulls and Candrea Judd Adams with six entries on their seasonal resumes. Of the three, Beckles qualified for the Olympia on the strength of the points she earned over the year, and as a glowing example of the fluidity in judging, Beckles placed 11th, 12th and 13th in three of the five qualifying events she entered. And for those who become overly stressed at a disappointing placement, LaDrissa Bonivel finished 15th at the Europa Super Show in Dallas, but won the San Jose Pro to qualify for the Olympia.
Still others had it go a different way. Samantha Hill won two WPD events during the year, but missed cracking the top 15 at the Olympia. Similarly, Tamee Marie also won two contests, but finished 15th in Las Vegas.
It was feast or famine for Sandra Lombardo. In four qualifying events she was second at the Toronto Pro and third at the Wings of Strength in Chicago. But on the down side she also placed tied for 16th at both the Optimum Classic and PBW Tampa Pro. She also finished the rocky season with another tie for 16th at the Physique Olympia after qualifying on points.
As for Danielle Reardon, her seasonal progression didn't go as she would have liked. In succession she finished 2nd at the St. Louis Pro, 4th at the Show of Champions, 6th at the Omaha Pro and 8th at the PBW Tampa Pro. On the positive side, they were all top ten finishes and she no doubt has the capacity for many more consistently strong placings in the coming year.
There were also two examples of the most surprising falls from grace. First, Brazilian Patricia Mello, a winner of three previous pro Physique events and a 5th-place finisher at the Physique Olympia last year, dropped to 13th at the Olympia this year. Meanwhile, Pennsylvanian Toni West who won the Toronto Supershow last year as well as placing a stellar 4th place at the Physique Olympia, plummeted to a tie for 16th at this year's Olympia.
Others enjoyed very strong competitive seasons. Rachel Baker enjoyed a successful year with two runner-up finishes at the Optimum Classic and Omaha Pro, along with a third-place spot at the Mile High Pro before finishing the season with a 16th placing at the Olympia. Better still was Sabrina Taylor's run to the Olympia placing 1st at both the LA Grand Prix and Emerald Cup Pro along with a runner-up finish at the Europa Super Show in Dallas behind winner Juliana Malacarne. Her series of strong entries helped her to a solid 5th-place finish at the Olympia. Karina Nascimento was the year's highest Olympia finisher without winning a qualifying event. Still, she placed third at both the Optimum Classic and Greater Gulf States, along with a runner-up finish at the PBW Tampa Pro before moving up to a 4th-place finish at the Olympia.
There were also three MIA's during the year. Joele Smith at the Show of Champions, Shawna Pringle at the New York Pro and Jamie Pinder at the Wings of Strength in Chicago all were runner-up placers at those events, but they disappeared from the competitive scene for the remainder of the year.
On the upside, 23 competitors qualified for the Physique Olympia this year up from 16 at the inaugural event last year. Eleven or the 23 competitors were returnees from 2013.
But clearly, the year belonged to Brazil's Juliana Malacarne. Completing a perfect season with wins at the New York Pro and Europa Super Show in Dallas, she added the coveted Physique Olympia title. For her the Olympia win was beyond special after many years of struggling to find her niche.
All the above said, as the year winds down there are also four Olympia-qualifying events that will count towards the 2015 season. Two in October (the Titans Grand Prix on the 18th and the Europa Phoenix Pro on the 25-26) and two in November (the Ultimate Warriors Pro on the 1st and the Ferrigno Legacy Pro on the 28-29). How many early birds will swoop down on these events to get a head start on 2015?