Bodybuilding fans are used to repeat champs. Since the first Olympia was held in 1965, the Men’s Open division has seen 16 champions. Dominance is admired, but it can get stale to some. The Bikini division, which has had nine different Olympia winners since 2010, maintains popularity for its ever-changing champions (at least, that’s one reason).
And on the weekend of March 4-5, 10 of the best Bikini competitors in the world will compete at the Bikini International contest at the 2022 Arnold Classic. For context, the contests held at the Arnold Classic are considered second in prestige only to the Olympia. With defending Olympia and Arnold champion Jennifer Dorie absent from the lineup, the 2022 Bikini International show could determine the top contender to Dorie’s Olympia title when that contest is held in Las Vegas, NV on Dec. 16-18, 2022. The 10 contenders for the Bikini International title are listed below in alphabetical order.
- Maureen Blanquisco (USA)
- Lauralie Chapados (USA)
- Lauren Dannenmiller (USA)
- Alessia Facchin (Italy)
- Phoebe Hagan (United Kingdom)
- Ashley Kaltwasser (USA)
- Jourdanne Lee (USA)
- Lucia Malavaze (USA)
- Elisa Pecini (Brasil)
- Allison Testu (France)
Athletes to Watch
The lineup contains two former Bikini International and Olympia winners — Kaltwasser and Pecini — along with the top five Olympia competitors. Either Kaltwasser or Pecini is favored to win, but there are certainly other athletes who could pull off an upset.
There is no athlete in any division, male or female, that is more decorated than Ashley Kaltwasser. The three-time Olympia Champion and two-time Bikini International winner has 31 victories to her credit as a professional — the most out of any athlete in IFBB Pro League history.
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She wasted no time racking up wins in 2022, either. She’s already won the 2022 Legends Pro contest in Las Vegas. She will be a favorite to take her third Arnold title in March, and if she does, that puts her in the driver seat as the top threat to Dorie’s position as the number one Bikini athlete on the planet.
Pecini has also held both major Bikini titles. She won the 2019 Bikini Olympia and the 2020 Bikini International championship. She placed second at the 2021 Bikini International to Dorie, and she was fifth at the Olympia two weeks later. Her last victory came at the 2021 Tampa Pro.
When Pecini nails her peak, she is in the mix for a win. Her inconsistency has cost her at times over the last two seasons. This will likely not be one of those times, and it could come down to her and Kaltwasser for the win.
Chapados was the 2021 Olympia runner-up, and she finished third at the 2021 Bikini International. She has now taken Dorie’s place as the best athlete to have not won the Olympia or Arnold. Clearly, she wants to break that stigma this season.
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With eight pro wins to her credit, she’s an elite-level competitor. Her last victory was at the 2021 Iron Games Pro, and people in attendance felt her victory was clear-cut. She will likely be in the final callouts in Columbus. It’s just a matter of whether she can close the door this time to take the win.
Blanquisco burst onto the scene in 2019 thanks to winning the Tampa Pro and the Miami Muscle Beach Pro. After taking 2020 off, she returned to competition in 2021 to win Janet Layug’s Battle of the Bodies contest. She then placed fourth in the 2021 Olympia, one spot ahead of Pecini.
This will be Blanquisco’s Arnold debut, and she will very likely be in the first callout. Her confidence onstage helps her stand out, which she should have when she faces the judges. A top three finish for her is likely, and it wouldn’t be a shock if she took home the victory.
Dark Horse: Phoebe Hagan
Hagan won the inaugural Arnold Classic UK contest in 2021. It was her first pro victory but a significant one, as it qualified her for the 2022 Olympia. Like Blanquisco, this will be her debut on the Arnold USA stage.
At 5’8”, Hagan will likely be one of the tallest ladies in the lineup. Her height will help her stand out. Once she gets that initial glance, her job will be to keep the attention on her by showcasing a symmetrical and muscular physique.
For more information, tickets, and access to the 2022 Arnold Classic pay-per-view, go to www.arnoldsportsfestival.com.
Featured Images: @ashleykfit on @lauraliechap Instagram