It's a challenging year for Alaska's Zlata Sushchik, from taking a strong placing at the Emerald Cup to tough placings at two national shows. But she's strong - stronger than most. When you're a champion, it's not about winning all the time, it's about bringing your best and not giving up. How can you truly be a champion if you've never suffered defeat?
What's interesting about physique-based sports is that you can bring your best, but if the judges aren't all there (meaning the lights might be on, but no one's home, lol) then you won't do well. In Basketball if you make the shot, it's a point - there's no debating that. If the ball goes in the hoop and there's no fouls, it's a point. End of story. At the USA's, the photos show a great build, nice color, a perfect Top 5 placing, but that's not how it went down.
At times, like any other athlete, she looks to her own physique, to see if there are any issues. I'm usually pretty accurate about placings, but this isn't a science.
Some Bikini stars worry that they're too soft or lack lines or cuts. But this is BIKINI! They don't even want major lines and/or striations in Figure; Bikini is supposed to have subtle muscle, good hair/makeup, elegant posing, and SEX APPEAL. It's the mainstream bread and butter for a federation hosting some divisions that are lagging (e.g. local/regional Women's Fitness, local/regional Women's Bodybuilding, and yes...even local/regional Men's Bodybuilding).
[Women's] Bikini and [Men's] Physique is what's paying the bills.