We’re back with IRON MAN’s celebrated women’s news-’n’-gossip page—Pump & Circumstance—and just in time to talk about the lineups for the ’14 Arnold Sports Festival pro shows, which were announced just before Christmas. It’ll be hot battles in all the events, although the hottest story may be the dropping of women’s bodybuilding in favor of men’s 212-and-under bodybuilding. Not surprisingly, much of the buzz has been from those who are unhappy with the decision, but I wonder if any have considered that maybe Jim Lorimer and company looked at their program, saw they had one men’s competition and four women’s and decided it was time to even it out a little. It’s not as if they swapped the female flexers for men’s physique.
None of the contests that will take place at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Columbus, Ohio, on February 28 and March 1 (the last time for the Vets, which will be torn down; the contest moves to the Greater Columbus Convention Center in 2015) will be fiercer than the Bikini International. All five players will be back from the Olympia upset—in which relative newcomers Ashley Kaltwasser, Yeshaira Robles and Stacey Alexander took the top three over defending champ Natalia Melo and runner-up India Paulino. They’ll all have something to prove, but are we in for a rematch or a rerun?
I had my suspicions about the Olympia results—that Paulino and Melo looked a bit lean from the front next to the three fresh faces. According to the IFBB’s Sandy Williamson, who was the head judge, “It came down to who was in the best shape. It was pretty unanimous that the top three were in the best shape.”
Regarding Kaltwasser’s one-point win, she said, “They each had areas where they excelled over the others. Ashley has a more athletic body and was in great shape, Yeshaira has probably the best stage presence, and Stacey has a great body but needs a little more stage presence even though she has really blossomed this year.”
So, will Stacey blossom even more in 2014? Will Yeshaira squeeze past Ashley? Will Natalia, possessor of, arguably, the best butt in the biz, and India, who holds the title of “Least Likely Cop Ever,” come back to exact revenge? Your guess is as good as mine.