In Dallas last weekend, a blast from the past took her first pro title in the Women's Physique division. She competed in NPC Bodybuilding until about 2009, and, as far as I know, has always been known by just the one name: Yasha.
The thing that struck me as I checked out the pics from the contest is that Yasha has got a lot of muscle going on right there. And as I checked out the women who finished in 2nd, 3rd, and so on, it became clear that the judges had given the title to the most muscular woman on stage. The woman who most resembled a "bodybuilder".
Have you just spat your breakfast cereal all over yourself? Are you about to send me a picture of Anne, Christine or Mmmmmonique with the subject line "This Is a Bodybuilder Fool!"? I have been spending a fair bit of time in the FMS archive recently with the so-called "old school" bodybuilders of yore, so I am prepared to accept that I may just be comparing Yasha to a somewhat outdated idea of a "bodybuilder", but I am not alone in having noticed the muscle and making that comparison.
I am so CONFUSED!!! wrote FMS fave (and Hot and Hard 100 #26) Valerie Garcia Giovanoli after the Dallas show. Congratulations to Andrea Calhoun (left, below) who just won 1st in Figure in Dallas and to Yasha who won 1st in Physique at the same show. I think both women are incredible, BUT, am I the only one confused as shit about what the IFBB wants from physique?!? Yasha would have won a pro Women's Bodybuilding competition any other year. This is not what we have come to expect from the new Women's Physique category. Am I the only one who switched over and has been pounding away at the weights without restraint, finally happy I can train the way I want without worrying I'll be 'too muscular' for Figure?
None of my training is going to allow me to compete with a female bodybuilder's physique! I am happy to see more muscle being rewarded in figure... But then that crap confuses me too!!! I am currently prepping for the Wings of Strength show in August, and now I don't even know where I fit in: Figure or Physique?
I read Valerie's rant and I thought back to last year's NPC Nationals when Valerie won her class and her pro card and how she compared with another pro card winner that day, Marcie Simmons, who had been awarded the overall title as well.
Marcie was easily more muscular than Valerie at that show, but she was also the most muscular woman in any class on that stage. She had the biggest muscles and the best conditioning, so those big muscles were also the most defined. In short, she was the most like a "bodybuilder", and this was noted at the time, both by FMS and by commentators who know much more about these things than I do.
And it's not just in the Stateside pro shows this seems to be happening. Meanwhile, as we saw yesterday, over here in Europe Cristina Goy Arellano has been packing on more muscle for this contest season. And the judges have rewarded her.
Cris wasn't the only lady at the Europeans who was displaying some serious muscle. Running her a very close second in the taller class was a woman completely new to me - the arrestingly pectacular Liudmila Goshko from Russia.
Before anyone else gets in with it, I'll say it myself: Oh my Goshko!
I often describe freakishly ripped muscle women - probabaly so often it's boring - as being all skin and muscle or some such. Well, with Liudmila, I'll take that description even further because it looks to me as if she's dispensed with the skin on those glorious pecs altogether, like she's had it surgically removed or something. So insane is the amount of detail that it's like the pro tan is applied directly onto the muscle!
Of course, it isn't all medals and wins for the more muscular Physique competitor. Though she and Liudmila muscled up the taller class, Cris ultimately lost out in the overall posedown to the less muscular (although probably better-conditioned and balanced blah blah) package of Lithuania's Alina Cepurniene.
And a random selection of some of this year's pro Physique winners on the IFBB circuit also demonstrates that while one show might throw up a winner who is more at the "bodybuilding" end of the Physique spectrum, on a different weekend in a different place, a Physique look that leans more towards Figure will get the judges' nod.
Top left is the less muscular look of Toronto Pro winner Ceaanna Kerr, and next to her we have ex-bodybuilder and new New York Pro winner Michelle Cummings. And you can check out Michelle's last outing in Women's Bodybuilding from Tampa in 2013 and see for yourself how little difference there is in her look. Then bottom left is the Orlando champion Ayanna Carroll, muscular for sure, but smoother and not as muscular as the bigger and more defined Puerto Rico Pro winner Gloria Faulls.
It's easy to see why Valerie is confused. All this inconsistent judging. Competitors not knowing what kind of package the judges at the next show will decide to give the top places to. Hang on! That sounds just like the situation in Women's Bodybuilding!!!
But there was no confusion at all at the recent NABBA Worlds because...
The big girls were back!
After a one-year hiatus when it seemed NABBA had gone the way of most federations and jettisoned Women's Bodybuilding (which in NABBA-speak is Physique) at its premier event outside the UK, true bodybuilders returned to flex their muscles in those beloved NABBA-style thong posing suits in Malta last weekend.
The winner was the Czech Karolina Borkovcova (who is probably more familiar to readers under her previous guise of Karolina Holubcova). Sit back and dig the muscle as you watch Karolina's utterly glute-tasic - and winning - routine.
You can see much much more of the contest on the NABBA YouTube channel.