She came, she quarter-turned, she conquered. On September 6, Zivile Raudoniene returned to the scene of her 2007 triumph, the New York Pro Figure, and swept the field, scoring a unanimous win over a slick-looking lineup of 29. The blond bombshell from Lithuania, now living in the United States, was the obvious victor—one look at her polished presence onstage at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center and there was no doubt—for the judges and the audience—that she’d be Olympia bound once again. More interesting, then, to observers of the women’s physique sports were the placings that followed.
This year’s Junior National Overall champ, JulieAnn Kulla, earned flavor-of-the-month honors with a solid second-place finish in her pro debut and picked up a ticket to the O as well. Third place and the last Figure O qualification went to a newly sleeker Jelena Abbou in a one-point squeaker over Huong Arcinas. Fans of Huong—and I count myself among them—wish that had gone the other way, as Jelena earned her invite to the big season finale at the Europa Super Show last month. That’s the way it goes in the physique biz, however, and Arcinas, a 5’ powerhouse from San Jose, California, will definitely be back to pose again.
Rounding out the top five was the biggest surprise of the contest, Candice John. It was surprising not because the lovely lady from Trinidad didn’t look as if she belonged in the first callout—she did—but because previous to this show she’d tanked in every pro competition she entered. According to Candice, she took a realistic look at the competition, realized the judges meant it about favoring softer physiques and brought hers in to suit the fashion. Now that she’s on their radar, it’s entirely possible that she’ll make the Big O lineup sooner rather than later. She’s competing in Atlantic City this weekend. Stay tuned.
For complete results and photos from the ’08 New York Pro Figure, click here.
Photos (from top):
The top three (from left): Jelena Abbou, Zivile Raudoniene and JulieAnn Kulla.