Well, my hiatus is over, along with the bronchitis I came down with after the IRON MAN Pro weekend, my ticket to Columbus, Ohio, for the Ms., Fitness and Figure International competitions, is booked, and thoughts of possible outcomes are swirling around my brain like bubbles in a whirlpool. Interestingly, the contest that will have us talking the most the day after may well be the figure battle.
Jenn Gates’ pulling out of the lineup changes everything in terms of handicapping the pro-figure-season opener, Without her, Gina Aliotti, last year’s winner and the runner-up to Jenn at the Olympia, becomes the obvious favorite. The question is, Can anything or anyone keep that from being a historic inevitability?
Numerous elements suggest that the results may not be boilerplate, although whether that will affect the overall winner is another story. For one thing, the presence in the lineup of multiple-time Fitness International and Olympia champ Adela Garcia, a woman who knows her way around a quarter turn, promises some interesting developments. Ditto for Zivile Raudoniene, who shot to third place at the Figure O in September.
In her one figure competition, the ’07 Houston Pro, Adela took a very respectable third—six points behind runner-up Zivile. So that should be one lively match-up. Garcia, who spent most of last year rehabbing a torn ACL—she’ll do fitness in the second half of the season—promises that she’ll be “coming in smaller.” On her that always looks good. Zivile, on the other hand, was only two points behind Aliotti at the O, so maybe Gina’s win isn’t as inevitable as it might seem at first glance. Add the presence of such tough players as Sonia Gonzales (formerly Adcock), Kristal Richardson, Heather Mae French and Latisha Wilder, not to mention the return of Mo Brantto the posing platform, and the potential for surprises is well beyond the norm.
For the complete list of competitors invited to the Figure, Fitness and Ms. International competitions, to be held on March 6, go to www.ArnoldSportsFestival.com.
Photo: Defending Figure International champ Gina Aliotti will have to watch her back in Columbus.