LAS VEGAS—You know what they say about apples and oranges? Well, at the '04 IFBB Figure Olympia competition, which was held on October 29 at the Mandalay Bay Resort, it was a question of apples vs. oranges vs. cantaloupes, and the judges went for the cantaloupes, metaphorically speaking, selecting sitting champ Davana Medina for a repeat victory. Based on the noisy chorus of yeas and nays that erupted from the fans in attendance as, in turn, Monica Brant was announced in third, Jenny Lynn in second and Medina in first, there were a lot of folks who preferred apples or oranges. In this case I have to agree with them.
Now, before you argue that I have never liked Davana's physique and was mad when she beat Monica at the first-ever Figure O last year, that's not actually true: I like cantaloupe just fine, but I like it to be ripe.
Fifteen of the world's ripest fruits'er, fittest female physique athletes'lined up for the prejudging at the Olympia Expo. Both the one-piece and then the two-piece-suit comparisons were judged at the afternoon session, with a third round of callouts performed 'for show' at the finals. Here's how the bodies stacked up:
Davana looked very good, and I liked her gold one-piece suit, which was a bone of contention in the postcontest Internet chat. (Ladies, with her coloring, she can wear that color.) Medina is growing into her role as champion, and she sparkles much more now than she did a year and a half ago. At the New York Pro last August she was at her very best. This time her put-it-all-together intangibles were not quite so perfect'or maybe it was just that she hadn't been standing next to Lynn and Brant in New York.
With Jenny it's simply a question of whether she's on peak or off, and, fresh from her win at the Show of Strength three weeks earlier, she was at her very best in Vegas. All bodyparts were polished in all the right places. Monica, who's been playing the harder-softer/bigger-smaller game almost since fitness was invented, was a bit softer than she'd been at the Figure International at the beginning of the '04 season'or so it seemed at the judging.
In the one-piece suits, at least to these eyes, Jenny and Monica had better balance than Davana. In the two-piece suits they had sharper midsections. Brant always looks more muscular in the photos than she does onstage, but even so, she had the best overall shape of the three. That's where the apples-and-oranges thing comes in. I thought the contest was between Jenny and Monica, with Mo not likely to be the panel's choice, based on recent history. Based on the fact that the panel had retired Medina and Lynn'but not Mo'after the first round of quarter turns, Brant wasn't likely to finish higher than third. That meant that Lynn would win, right? Go figure those judges. They gave Medina a six-point margin of victory, with Brant solidly in third. Am I mad about the outcome? Nah'there's not enough money at stake'but I probably wouldn't go produce shopping with those guys.
The next few slots went to some very deserving competitors. Pittsburgh Pro champ Jaime Franklin's polished presentation saw her standing in the first callout with the above three women and looking like she belonged there. She capped a terrific year by moving into fourth, up from seventh in 2003. Also strolling the stage in fine form was '03 NPC National champ Amber Littlejohn, who, after an 11th-place pro debut at the Figure International, also spent the year competing and getting better. Pulling together her 5'8' of imposing bodyparts, she made the top five at her first Olympia.
At the other end of the measuring tape was Christine Pomponio-Pate, who was also making the scene at her first Figure O. No rookie'she turned pro in 2001'Christine took her time finding the right balance for her 5'1' physique. She found it just in time to take sixth here. Not that the women who finished below those three weren't deserving as well. Fit, full and fair, Mari Kudla-Donnelly, Elaine Goodlad, Zena Collins and Aleksandra Kobielak finished seventh through 10th, respectively. Fitness veteran Melissa Frabbiele landed in 11th, Shannon Meteraud took 12th, Dina Al-Sabah was scored 13th (What was that about?), and Finnish entries Jaana Kotansalo and Lisbeth Halikka occupied the final two placings with nothing to be ashamed of. ALL Was justice'or injustice'done, figurewise, at the pro-season's end finale in Vegas? Time for you to be the judge. Feast your eyes on the accompanying photos and make up your own sweet mind.
'04 IFBB Figure Olympia
1) Davana Medina*
2) Jenny Lynn*
3) Monica Brant*
4) Jaime Franklin*
5) Amber Littlejohn*
6) Christine Pomponio-Pate
7) Marie Kudla-Donnelly
8) Elaine Goodlad
9) Zena Collins
10) Aleksandra Kobielak
11) Melissa Frabbiele
12) Shannon Meteraud
13) Dina Al-Sabah
14) Jaana Kotkansalo
15) Lisbeth Halikka
*Qualifies for the '05 Figure Olympia.
Editor's note: You'll find hundreds of photos from all the Olympia competitions at www.ironmanmagazine.com. IM