We've already seen how Yaxeni Oriquen qualifed again despite already being qualifed as last year's 4th place finisher. Debi Laszewski, who finished one place higher in San Antonio last year, won't be at RP2016 I'm sorry to say, so that - apart from the reigning champ, of course, and we will see her again tomorrow - leaves two more women who made up that epic first callout at the Rising Phoenix last year.
And they are...
RP 2015: 5th
RP 2015: 2nd
Neither Helle nor Alana have competed so far in 2016.
Alana, an American whose husband's work bases her for the majority of the year in Israel, has been barely there on her social media. The above selfie is one of the grand total of three posts she has made on Instagram this year. Helle, in contrast, has been all over. Barely a day has gone by since she has posted something of herself to her IG, Facebook or YouTube channel, and her Snapchat account comes highly recommended by none other than one of our favourite (though I love you all) readers. It's well worth following for some great workout pics and vids, he says. She is looking incredible.
Slow and steady... says Alana, which is kind of ironic given that it looks as though her prep workouts at the Diamond Gym in New Jersey are pretty much anything other than than - click here if you are not easily scared, turn down your sound if you don't think those around you would appreciate some, let's say "colourful" language.
Contrast that with any of Helle's recent YouTube edits - positively serene in comparison, no one's yelling at her while she does her work, anyway - or one of the "pep talks" from her prep coach Cris Aceto, who comes across as not so much Master Blaster (like the chaps egging Alana on) but much more Zen Muscle Master.
By the way, you've now seen all of Alana's social media posts for 2016!
And the contrast between these two amazing women doesn't end there.
Take a look at their careers. Alana, a relatively new physique on the block, only started working out in 2011 in an attempt to remodel the body she had developed into motherhood. It was the same year that Helle was making her competitive her comeback six years after a back injury threatened to stop her lifting at all.
Alana, before the transformation, and Helle, returning triumphant at FIBO 2011
Perhaps not very surprisingly when you look at the pre-2011 Alana, she had no sporting background. I've never been very athletic, she said in an interview in 2012. In fact, I've always been awkward when it comes to sports. But Helle, on the other hand, had always been sporty. A gymnast from the age of 3, according to her Wikipedia entry, the list of sports she competed in growing up vary from ballroom dancing to boxing, from shot put to swimming. She joined her local gym in Sønderborg at the age of 17, and immediately started training seven days a week.
What they do have in common though was that once they had started lifting, they both had the almost immediate realisation that they had found their personal métier.
I began developing my body way beyond my expectations, says Alana. Just a year after she had stepped into the gym for the first time she had to rethink her plan to compete in the Figure category at the NAC Ms Universe, and switched to the Physique (ie. Bodybuilding) category instead. Within a year of training, says Helle's website, she had added 20lbs of muscle and realized she had great genetics for bodybuilding.
2015 - Helle wins in Chicago; Alana 2nd in Tampa
And their genetic advantages have meant both of them have enjoyed a lot of success in their careers. Helle, before her injury in 2006, had a Jan Tana title, and last year she added the Chicago Pro to that and her 2011 FIBO win. Alana's rise as an amateur was so stellar that she turned pro after the 2013 Nationals less than two years after she had first entered a gym. A year later she was 2nd in Toronto in her first pro show and qualified for the Olympia at her first attempt, finsihing 4th. Last year she was runner-up to Margie Martin in Tampa before her 5th place at the Rising Phoenix.
Given their past successes, it's likely that both of them will be in that first callout once again, though as noted above, there's not much to go on regarding Alana's current shape, while you can see Helle's progress towards RP2016 in minute detail.
Alana, Rising Phoenix 2015
This makes a comparison of their chances somewhat difficult. I can't, however, escape the feeling that Alana's diminutive stature will always count against her at the very top level, and that - however immaculate her proportions are, or jaw-dropping she looks from the rear - she may have already reached as high as she's ever going to get. And at the same time I also can't help feeling that the second chapter of Helle's career hasn't quite reached its peak just yet, and that if anyone other than Margie is capable of upsetting the expected coronation of Alina Popa, then it's the lady from Sønderborg.
Helle, Rising Phoenix 2015
And, in the last of our RP2016 previews, tomorrow it's THE CHAMP!