Anytime you get 29 fine-bodied women in bathing suits to lineup on a stage you’re likely to start a riot. Especially if someone who generates major interest among the onlookers finishes “too low.” Granted that’s a bit of an exaggeration regarding the California Pro Figure competition, which was held on May 23 at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Culver City, but there’s definitely been some heated discussion both in the auditorium and in the ensuing days in places where people talk about these things. The question I hear first is not whether Heather Mae French should have won (she should have) but why Alicia Renee Harris in her pro debut missed out on a top-five finish.
Before I get to that, however, let’s talk about the women who did make the top five, starting with Heather Mae, who scored her first pro win at last. Having missed out on that honor by a single point at the Europa Show of Champions last month, she was determined. Battling bronchitis, she managed to step onstage looking as good as it gets, and the judges gave her a 14-point margin of victory over runner-up Sonia Gonzales.
You might say the law of the pecking order held true in this skirmish of the shorties. The 5’ 1/4” Heather finished one slot ahead of the 5’ 1” Sonia at the A-list Figure International in March, and that ranking held firm in Cali.
The rest of top five held some pleasant surprises. A balanced Kristi Tauti took third and the last of the Olympia qualifications up for grabs. Meriza DeGuzman, sporting her best-ever body in terms of fullness plus conditioning, was just three points behind her in fourth, while a nicely put together, as always, Rosa-Maria Romano enjoyed her first-ever top-five finish in the pros. (Talk about a smile from ear to ear.)
As for Ms. Harris. From the callouts it was clear that she had at least one champion on the panel: Someone made sure she was compared with the top placers. In the end, though, the callouts provided an exact blueprint of the winner’s circle, and Alicia had to settle for sixth.
The reason? The 5’ 3/4″ former track athlete had about the best structure for physique competition as I saw onstage, but her mesomorphic curves may be “too much muscle for figure” for some tastes.
So should she lose muscle? you’re probably wondering. Not on my say-so. Besides, I like the way she looks—”beautiful female muscle” is the phrase—and I suspect a different judging panel might have seen it differently.
I also think she’d make a wonderful middleweight bodybuilder, but that’s not likely to occur anytime soon given the looks on people’s faces when I suggest it. Another topic for an other time. My guess is Alicia will soften up her look the next time she competes.
That can’t possibly be for a couple of months, as we’re now heading into something you don’t see very often during an IFBB season: A lull in the figure schedule. The next show, the Jacksonville Pro Figure Classic—promoted by Mr. Olympia Dexter Jackson—is scheduled for August 1.
Until then? There’s always the bikini-pro-card race heating up.