Would You Bet Against Iris Kyle’s earning her fifth Ms. Olympia crown on September 25 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas? Take a look at the accompanying photo and accept that the back view is every bit as precise as the front, and you know you would not. You can sob all you want (and I do) about the need for smaller, symmetrical-style female flexers to flood the pro ranks, but this athlete has got the aesthetics down—plus a whole lotta muscle. A female Flex Wheeler, as we’ve always said, maybe a little more consistent in her conditioning than he was, she is among the very top bodybuilders in the world, period, and the sight of that much muscle perfectly placed and conditioned on a symmetrical X-frame is more than the Olympia panel can resist. Where gender comes in: Flex lost the Olympia three times to someone who had a wider waist than he did, but that’s not likely to happen to Ms. Iris.
Juliette Bergmann notwithstanding, the Olympia has long been a big-woman’s show—and the reason is that the big women who rule the lineups here and at the Ms. International have more than just size to offer. Lenda Murray’s weighed 150 or so at 5’5”. Iris’ bio in the Olympia program for 2008 says 160 at 5’7”. Most of the serious contenders on tap to flex in Vegas this year are old-style-muscle mamas, meaning that, like Iris, they gotta lotta muscle; so the tradition is likely to prevail.
Not that it’s without the realm of possibility that one of the “smaller women” will wow her way into the top six. With Cathy LeFrancois out of the lineup due to an elbow injury, however, it seems less likely.
One of Iris’ greatest intangible strengths is her consistency. She nails it—or close to it—every time. Some of her closest competitors don’t share that quality, which makes predicting what will happen next so darned difficult. Here’s a rundown of the ladies who like to think they’re breathing down Iris’ neck.
Let’s start with Yaxeni Oriquen-Garcia. The ’05 Ms. Olympia and four-time Ms. International is a logical pick for a top-three finish after coming in third at last year’s Olympia and this year’s International. Though she was not at the top of her game at the Ms I, she was good enough—which means she’s due to get it right this time out. Just remember: Yaxeni’s best condition means deep separation but not crazy striations.
Other candidates for a top-three position include Debi Laszewski, runner-up at the International in March, who’ll be making her Olympia debut; Betty Viana-Atkins, second at the ’08 Olympia but sixth at the International; Heather Armbrust, fourth at the Ms. I but 14th at the O; and, last but hardly least, Dayana Cadeau, who finished second behind Iris in three out of the last five Olympia battles.
Add one more name, Lisa Aukland, who sat out the International but has been fourth the past two years at the O after a steady climb, and you can see why I’m not seeing room for any of the symmetry-only gals to break through in Vegas. Lisa was at her very best last weekend at the Atlantic City Pro, where she scored a big win, I can safely predict that if she has to settle for fourth again at the Ms. Olympia—or even fifth—it’ll be because two more (besides Yaxeni) of the above mentioned women brought their game on. I’m betting it’ll be Betty and Dayana—Betty because I just have a feeling, and Dayana because I saw the determination in her eyes when we spoke last summer.
That makes seven prospective top finishers, by the way, and I haven’t even mentioned Betty Pariso (speaking of old-style-muscle mamas). There are 14 athletes on the roster, including Kristy Hawkins and Nicole Ball, who finished behind Aukland in Atlantic City. Only the six finalists earn an automatic invite to the 2010 Olympia.
Here’s my fantasy prognostication for where the chips will fall:
1) Iris Kyle
2) Betty Viana-Atkins
3) Yaxeni Oriquen
4) Dayana Cadeau
5) Lisa Aukland
6) Debi Laszewski
7) Heather Armbrust
8) Betty Pariso
9) Rosemary Jennings
10) Kristy Hawkins
Isabelle Turell had to pull out at the last minute due to an injury, or I’d have picked her for ninth. The rest of the lineup includes, in alphabetical order, Nicole Ball Tina Chandler and Frankie Gale, all fine flexers who could make the above prediction game irrelevant.
Look for my Ms. Olympia wrap-up video after the show at www.IronManMagazine.com.