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Pittsburgh Pro Fitness, Figure and Bikini—Welcome to the Body ’Burgh

Surprises and not-such-surprises marked the annual bodyfest that is Jim Manion‘s Pittsburgh Pro, which took place on May 5 in conjunction with the big, bad NPC Pittsburgh Championships. I love going to this show. It’s my hometown, and I have fond, non-bodybuilding-related memories of events that took place at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall. It’s been a few years since I’ve been to the Pittsburgh, however, and while I’ve been hanging out in Cali come the first weekend in May, the NPC and IFBB events have been growing exponentially. More than 300 amateurs including almost 150 in men’s bodybuilding flocked to the Soldiers and Sailors stage for the 2012 edition—in addition to 51 pro women in fitness, figure and bikini.
Here’s the word on the pro competitions:

Fitness Follies
This event started as a fitness show, so it was only fitting that Mr. Manion brought fitness back in 2012. Folks are talking as if a nine-woman lineup was a low turnout, but when you consider the number of gals getting pro cards in fitness every year vs. the number getting cards in figure and bikini the ratio is probably pretty close.

This lineup was chock full of newbies and more-recent entries into the pro fitness ranks. Also a lot of Canadians—four may not be the record, but it’s darned close. When the judges moved Jodi Boam, one of the two contestants to have ever won a pro show, into the center of the callout, it was a good bet that the ’11 Toronto Pro champ, who also turned in a strong performance in the routines, would be center stage at evening’s end. She was, with a perfect score.

Kizzy Vaines, who won the Fort Lauderdale Pro in 2011 and 2010, had improved her physique and upped her game in the routine round—hers was my favorite of the evening—but the judges saw the United Kingdom’s star of fitness unanimously in second.

Speaking of newbies, Ontario’s Fiona Harris got her card a week earlier at the CBBF World Qualifier. Sliding past Danielle Ruban, also of Ontario, she landed in third by a slim three points. I probably would have flopped those placings—loved Ruban’s graceful routine and her physique-round performance—but not to worry. They both get points in the Olympia-qualifying derby. Fifth went to Quebec’s Allison Ethier, making it a sweep for the (mostly Canadian) international contingent. Here are the complete results:

’12 IFBB Pittsburgh Pro Fitness
1) Jodi Boam
2) Kizzy Vaines
3) Fiona Harris
4) Danielle Ruban
5) Allison Ethier
6) Whitney Jones
7) Sheri Vucick
8) Nichole Venzara
9) Michelle Gales

Figure in the ’Burgh

The established pecking order did not prevail at the Pittsburgh Pro Figure, where a rapidly rising Candice John roared past ’11 Toronto Pro Supershow champ Gen Strobo to score the win, her first-ever on the pro level. Strobo was second but only a single point ahead of third-placer Jami DiBernard in the 20-woman lineup.

Candice, who has been on my why-isn’t-she-doing-better list for a couple of years, gave notice with her runner-up finish at the Show of Champions in Orlando on April 28 that she was doing just that. The judges liked her smooth contours and excellent conditioning and awarded her the title unanimously.

Fourth went to an ever-improving Ann Titone, with Tamara Montoya earning the last of the Olympia-derby points available. Here are the complete results:

’12 IFBB Pittsburgh Pro Figure
1) Candice John
2) Gennifer Strobo
3) Jami DeBernard
4) Ann Titone
5) Tamara Montoya
6) Andrea Cantone
7) Candice Lewis
8) Maria Luisa Baeza-Diaz
9) Ryan Hays Althoff
10) Natalie Calland
11) Kimberly Sheppard
12) Maria-Jose Garcia
13) Tara Hollingsworth
14) Tiffany Procopio
15) Marie Gibbon
16) Becky Clawson
17) Kiana Phil-Lewis
17) Chikondi Mseka
17) Thea Erichsen
17) Gloria Tarpley
17) Janet West
17) Tamara Riberio-Bailey

The Bikini Battle

I actually thought the panel might tip the points toward ’11 Pittsburgh Pro Bikini winner Jaime Baird over India Paulino, but this time the did go with the established pecking order—Paulino, second at the Bikini International in March, over Baird, fourth at the B.I. Certainly, it was not a bad decision—India looked good, as always, and her presentation was right on as well; however, Jaime looked particularly sleek and sassy, and I like her shape. Guess it is an apples vs. oranges thing.

That left the third-placed contestant to provide the pleasant surprise of the bikini results. At the judging the panel called out only three women to start: India, Jaime and Colombian newcomer Marcela Tribin. The top two were retired, and Tribin stayed for the second callout, where the judges discovered Yeshira Robles, Diana Graham and Lexi Kaufman. Final results: Yeshira in third, Graham in fourth, Tribin in fifth in her pro debut and Kaufman in sixth.

Twenty beauteous bikini contestants walked the Soldiers and Sailors runway in search of a top-five finish. Here are the complete results:

’12 IFBB Pittsburgh Pro Bikini
1) India Paulino
2) Jaime Baird
3) Yeshaira Robles
4) Diana Graham
5) Marcela Tribin
6) Lexi Kaufman
7) Tawna Eubanks
8) Marisa Renee Lee
9) Kristy Robbins
10) Brooke Hameier
11) Melinda Jamiszewski
12) Nicole Moneer
13) Heather Nappi
14) Tabitha Leandri
15) Crystal Matthews
16) Samantha Morris
17) Janet Harding
18) Khanh Nguyen
19) Jessica Pendergrast
19) Kristal Martin

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