Talk about it’s all being good. The ’08 New York Pro Fitness, held April 12 at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center in lower Manhattan, produced gobs of encouraging results—both for the fans and for the numerous athletes who caught the spotlight at the annual Steve Weinberger–produced competition. First on the list was the always-engaging Heidi Fletcher, who earned her first-ever pro win after taking second at this show in ’06 and ’07. Also popping into view were second- and third-placers Trish Warren and Nicole Wilkins, who snagged their first-ever Olympia invites, but more on them in a minute.
Fletcher, who was 15th at the ’07 Fitness O and fourth at the post-O West Palm Beach competition, wisely skipped even thinking about the Fitness International in favor of focusing on New York. With the absence of heavier hitters in the lineup (Julie Shipley-Childs and Tracey Greenwood took top honors in ’06 and ’07), it was Heidi’s time to shine. Based on the photos, she looked lean and curvy, maybe even a little more conditioned than the tight package she brought to the O last year. The judges placed her second in both physique rounds as well as in the 90-second routines. Winning the show round, the two-minute routines, brought her to the end of the evening with a comfortable 36-point lead. Go, Heidi! We’ll see you at the O.
The 14-woman lineup was long on ladies with strong routines who are not as proficient in the physique rounds, at least not at present. Warren and Wilkins, who finished just a point apart, were notable exceptions, with each taking first in one of the physique rounds and third in the other. For Trish, who earned her card at the ’02 Fitness Nationals, made her pro debut a couple of years later in figure and then finally hit the pushups-for-pay arena in 2006, it was a tall leap from her previous fitness outings. From 12th at the ’06 Europa Pro Fitness to seventh at the ’07 N.Y. Pro to second here, she more than earned her rep as a body—and routine—to keep your eye on.
Wilkins took a more accelerated pace to get to the Olympia invite list. After an 11-th place landing in her pro debut at the Figure International last month, she proved that her double-dollop-victories at the ’07 Team Universe—overall trophies for the T.U. Fitness Championships and the Figure Nationals—were not just random acts of kindness by the judges. The fact that she held her own in the routines against some of the performers I’m about to mention, placing third and fourth in those rounds, says it all.
Nicole Duncan and Bethany Wagner made my ones-to-watch list when they won their classes at the ’06 Fit Nat’s and ’07 T.U., respectively. In New York they landed second and third behind Fletcher in the long routines, not too shabby when you consider who didn’t leave the venue with a top routine score.
I have to admit, if I’d been making predictions for this contest, I’d have picked Russian sensation Oksana Grishina for an Olympia-qualifying top-three spot, maybe even for an upset victory over Fletcher, the favorite. Good thing I didn’t. Yeah, I’m familiar with the perceived wisdom that Grishina’s physique just isn’t competitive right now, but what was up with her score in the long routines? Not to take anything away from the above-mentioned athletes—and Kendra Elias—all of whom got better marks than her in the performance round, but if Oksana’s routine was good enough to be valued third behind Jen Hendershott and Kim Klein at the International, how could she drop to seventh in this company?
File that under topics to pursue in the near future.
Photos (from top):
New York’s a lucky town for Heidi Fletcher, who will make her third Olympia appearance in September.
Trish Warren carbs up—and shows off her abs—at the ’06 Cal Pro Figure. A couple of months after this shot was taken she switched back to fitness.
Nicole Wilkins also has reason to love New York. She cleaned up at last summer’s Team Universe—on the very same stage.