Last July, in an article about the 2015 Physique Canada National Classic titled “Kanstrup Conquers – Plus Four Future Physique Canada Stars,” I wrote: “When Julie-Christine competes next, it’ll be Tier 2, and I won’t be surprised if she wins again. Then, if she makes a few improvements, I wouldn’t be at all shocked if she places top three, or perhaps wins, at the Tier 1 Pro level – she’s perfect for athletic physique.”

Jess, Julie-Christine, SoniaJess Kanstrup, Julie-Christine Cotton, Sonia Bradette

Today that reads almost like a prediction. At the 2015 Physique Canada Canadian Championships, held October 17, Julie-Christine Cotton swooped in and took first place not only in Tier 2 women’s athletic physique, but also first in the Tier 1 Pro level that same day. (The way the Canadian Championships event is structured, the top three in Tier 2 can move on to Tier 1 Pro if they wish.) Julie-Christine can now lay claim to being the best athletic physique competitor in the nation – and is featured on our cover this month because of it. The athlete who had to settle for second that day was Jess Kanstrup, the clear winner at the 2015 Physique Canada National Classic, which was held last June. Jess was the favorite going into the Canadians, so it was a bit of an upset. Sonia Bradette placed third, which was very respectable, given that this was her first time on Physique Canada’s Tier 1 Pro stage.

That’s not to say Julie-Christine’s win came easily. Whereas Jess won with unanimous first-place votes in June, Julie-Christine wasn’t the unanimous winner in October – three firsts mixed with a second and third – so it was more competitive for the top spot this time. In the end, Julie-Christine had 8 points and Jess had 9 (low score wins). I managed to snap a picture as Jess and Julie-Christine were exiting the stage, which is in our “Iron Shots” gallery this month. By the look on each of their faces, you can tell that both were excited and knew they were vying for the first-place spot.

Julie Christine-Cotton

Julie-Christine’s strengths that day were obvious the moment she walked onto the stage – she has a long, lean physique that is perfectly proportioned, ideally symmetrical, and with outstanding definition. Her muscle size was not extreme, but it was sufficient for this category. She capped those qualities off with high energy in her posing, and she displayed a very positive attitude the entire time she was on the stage, which really resonated with the audience. Julie-Christine looked great last June, but she was markedly improved in October.

Jess’s strengths were similar to when she competed in June – incredible leg development, amazing abdominals, excellent symmetry, and superior muscle size compared to everyone else on the stage. Jess’s posing was also on point, which was a weakness when she was an up’n’comer in 2014.

Jess Kanstrup

But Jess had two weaknesses compared to Julie: 1) she looked a little tired, and 2) she wasn’t quite as defined as she could have been. I chalk these two deficiencies up to the fact that Jess competed earlier in the day in the SAF competition (both events are held the same day), where she really gave it her all and looked more energetic and defined. However, expending that much energy for that competition no doubt contributed to her tiredness and didn’t allow her to maintain her crisp condition for the Physique Canada event. In contrast, Julie-Christine saved everything for Physique Canada, which showed. Had Jess done the same, it’s hard to say what the outcome would’ve been.

So that’s how the Tier 1 Pro women’s athletic physique category went down at the Canadian Championships. In some ways, I was surprised to see Jess Kanstrup slip to second after such a strong win in June. On the other hand, I saw the potential in Julie-Christine Cotton at that same show, when she debuted in Tier 3, so it’s not entirely surprising. What this sets stage for now is an electrifying 2016, which has me wondering if one of those two will dominate the women’s athletic physique stage, or if someone new will come to the forefront. I can’t wait to see!

Doug Schneider Founder and Publisher