Cathy LeFrancois took center stage at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center on May 8, making it three consecutive New York Pro Women’s Bodybuilding Championship titles in the row for the Canadian-born flexer. As some predicted, she didn’t have an easy time of it in the 13-woman lineup, but not all could have guessed where the push would come from. As it turned out, one little point separated LeFrancois from ’08 NPC National champ Shelia Bleck, whose proverbial long-awaited pro debut proved well worth the wait.
LeFrancois, who missed the ’09 Ms. Olympia as well as the ’10 Ms, International due to problem with her right arm, had set her sites and her guns on a big New York comeback. The result was a more streamlined, longer-torso look that made her other bodyparts really pop.
The judges didn’t find Bleck till the second callout but made up for it quickly, bringing her out with Cathy and another front-runner, Heather Foster, for the last comparison. Bleck was at her very best, conditioningwise, with legs to the sick side, and her captivating posing and stage presence were in full force. The final tally was 15-16, with Sheila getting an invite to the Ms. O her first time out.
Foster, who was also making her first appearance on a bodybuilding stage in a couple of years, looked swell, and when the judges retired her with Cathy after the first callout, I thought she was a lock for second. Once they added Sheila to the mix, though, Heather never had a chance. As she, too, was coming off an injury—her last placing was fifth in the heavyweights at the ’07 Atlantic City Pro—earning the third Olympia invite in her hometown undoubtedly had her beaming more broadly than usual.
Fourth place went Debbie Bramwell, who was also at her best, with Dayana Cadeau, who was off, rounding out the top five.
Another debut of note was Switzerland’s Rachel Ruch, a former fitness and figure competitor who switched to bodybuilding a couple of years ago and was second to Alina Popa at the World Championships in 2008. Sporting a highly conditioned physique, she muscled her way into sixth.
Photos (from top): Cathy LeFrancois, Sheila Bleck and Heather Foster.
Here are the complete results:
’10 New York Pro Women’s Bodybuilding Championship
1) Cathy LeFrancois*
2) Sheila Bleck*
3) Heather Foster*
4) Debbie Bramwell
5) Dayana Cadeau
6) Rachel Ruch
7) Nancy Lewis
8) Marja Lehtonen
9) Colette Nelson
10) Kristy Hawkins
11) Emma Sue
12) Nicole Pfuetzenreuter
13) Andrea Ferreira Carvalho
*Qualifies for the 10 Ms. Olympia.