Promoter Jon Lindsay kicked off the first of the 2015 Olympia qualifiers of the Pro Women's Physique division events in the post-Olympia season as 16 contestants gathered at the Veterans Auditorium in Culver City, California on October 18th to compete in the Titans Grand Prix. Now a tradition in its third year, Lindsay's Titan contests have become October events that offer competitors an early start in the Olympia qualification process – either as a winner and automatic Olympia qualifier, or as part of the Olympia points race for those placing in the top five.
San Diegan Sabrina Taylor – a recent 5th place finisher at the Physique Olympia – has been a winner at both the 2012 and '13 Titan events, and was in the audience this year to see who would take over her crown.
The Titan contest has always been a strong draw both nationally and internationally. This year's field of 16 welcomed five contestants from outside the United States, and an additional nine entrants from states other than California. In fact, only two competitors hailed from California, so the field carried a widely diverse group of contest travelers, and as it turned it out they were equally diverse in their looks on stage.
Familiar Faces and Physiques
While four competitors were making their pro debut at this event, along with one (Natalia Batova) who was entering a Physique division contest for the first time after competing in four Pro Bodybuilding shows over the past two years, the entry list showed several women who have become familiar to those who follow the Physique division. Foremost was Nebraska's Tamee Marie who had won four previous Pro WPD contests and most recently finished 15th at the Physique Olympia. She was the only competitor in this field with previous Olympia experience, and she was returning to Culver City in an attempt to move up to the Titan top spot after placing second to Sabrina Taylor last year. At 5’9” she was the tallest competitor in the field and mentioned before the contest that she was weighing in the 148-149 range – all of which was well-distributed throughout her structure.
In a first call-out at the prejudging, Marie and five additional competitors were brought forward. They included Katerina Kyptova, Erin Lawson, Jodi Marchuck, Desunka Dawson and Leonie Rose. This group of six was widely diverse in their overall looks, with differing structures, differing muscular development and varying levels of conditioning. As the call-outs progressed, Erin Lawson and Jodi Marchuck fell from grace and Brazil's Loana Muttoni was suddenly found in the second call-out. Muttoni was outstanding and almost overlooked, but her many qualities simply couldn't be denied.
Tamee Marie became the centerpiece of the prejudging and it looked more and more like she would be the odds-on-favorite to take the top spot. With the final tallies in, Marie was a unanimous selection to win the event. It was her fifth pro WPD victory tying her with Juliana Malacarne for the lead number of career pro wins in this division. Marie accepted a check for $2,000 to go with her automatic qualification for the 2015 Physique Olympia.
Also earning a unanimous selection was runner-up Katerina Kyptova from the Czech Republic. Glued to Marie's side through much of the prejudging, she showed notable stage presence along with great skin tone, a nice bikini selection, and the all-important muscular development that was balanced throughout her physique. Kyptova is also the possessor of what can only be best described as world class calves. They were eye-catching with every step she took on stage.
Competitively, the 5’6” Kyptova has steadily improved and is quietly moving up in the placings as time and contests pass. Her previous placements have been on the upward move with an 8th, 6th, and 4th this year before her 2nd place finish here. As a reward for her best pro Physique division finish to date, she collected $1,000 in prize money.
For The Love of Competing
Along with fourth-placer Leonie Rose, who was entering her fifth contest of the year, a pair of stalwart competitors also made an appearance. Georgia's Candrea Judd Adams was entering her seventh show of the year and claimed 8th place at this event. Combined with four entries in 2013, she is one of the division's busiest contestants. This was her second entry at the Titan event having placed sixth last year.
But even more prominent as an enthusiastic contest enterer was Colorado's Marina Lopez. A pioneer in this fledgling division, she was one of the nine competitors who entered the first-ever pro WPD event in 2012 and ended that inaugural year with seven contest entries. This year's Titan contest marked her fifth entry in 2014 and combined with two more last year, her career total of 14 entries leads the pro Physique division over the past three years.
Lopez's highest finish to date was a fourth-place spot at the California Governor's Cup in 2012. To her credit and perseverance, she's never been at a loss for effort, so two thumbs up are well-deserved in her efforts to find her niche in the still evolving look of competitors in this division. Lopez turned pro as the NPC National lightweight champion in 2010.
Third placer Desunka Dawson from Colleyville, Texas, showed a markedly different physique than Kyptova with a streamlined overall appearance and less muscularity. Dawson's stage presence seemed to grow through the prejudging as she appeared almost shy as the first line-up was brought out for introductions. Her positive call-outs created a spark to her confidence and in the end her third-place finish was also of the unanimous variety.
After earning her pro status at the 2013 IFBB North American Championships, Dawson has logged a fifth-place finish at the Europa Dallas Pro as her only pro event prior to the Titan Grand Prix. Her striking, even elegant appearance looks to have the capacity to be competitive as she improves with further training and dieting to more closely fit the WPD criteria. She pocketed $500 for her third-place finish.
As one of the year's biggest improvers, Leonie Rose catapulted from the obscurity of an 18th-place finish at the St. Louis Pro show in early March to a strong third-place finish at this competitive event. With four additional contest entries before her finish here, the Kingston, Jamaica-born Floridian has not gone unnoticed. She also notched a third-place spot at the Show of Champions and fourth at the Optimum Classic just behind Karina Nascimento. Rose captured her pro standing with a victory at the NPC Masters Nationals in 2012. Her unanimous placing here earned her two points in the Olympia Qualifying Points Series with the entire 2015 season ahead of her.
The sleeper at this event was clearly Loana Muttoni. A dazzling Brazilian (is there any other kind?) rose from the second call-out to wedge her way into comparisons with the top competitors from the first call-out. Weighing 142 for this event her balanced structure and overall condition was spot on and she appeared to gain strength and confidence as well as the judge's attention through the remainder of the prejudging.
From Sao Paulo, Muttoni's early experiences on stage came a decade ago when she competed as a fitness competitor. But now as a Physique competitor she may be entering the best years of her competitive career. Competing three times in the pro ranks last year her best finish was a seventh-place spot at the Europa Dallas Super Show and through the year she went largely unnoticed. It will be very interesting to see how she fits in as the 2015 season gets underway. Depending on the fluidity of the judging panels across the country, Loana Muttoni's days as a 'sleeper' in the Physique division may be well in her rearview mirror.
Lastly, if there was an overlooked contestant in this show the nod would easily sit with Brazilian (I know, I know, another Brazilian) Andrea de Carvalho. She looks to have unlimited potential. With notable success as a world Figure champion in another organization from 2005 to 2007, she has competed as both a Figure competitor and Bodybuilder in the IFBB with a handful of unheralded results where she was too muscular for Figure and not muscular enough for Bodybuilding. The Physique division is tailor-made for her structure and muscle shapes, and those forgettable finishes could easily fade away in the future.
Outside the Top Five
6- Jodi Marchuck, California 29
7- Erin Lawson, Michigan 33
8- Candrea Judd Adams, Georgia 42
9- Twana Barnett, California 46
10- Marnee Winn, Utah 52
11- Andrea de Carvalho, Brazil 57
12- Shannon Byers, Canada 58
13- Marina Lopez, Colorado 65
14- Robin Connell, Hawaii 67
15- Natalia Batova, Russia 72