The Sport of Queens

Taking center stage during the Arnold Sports Festival, the third annual Miss Arnold Teen Fitness Pageant showcased the sport of pageantry to the world

Columbus, Ohio, although presenting a blustery week in March, warmly welcomed the national delegates competing for the title of Miss Arnold Teen Fitness 2018 during the 30th anniversary of the Arnold Sports Festival, the largest collection and exposition of athletes in the world, surpassing even the recent Winter Olympics. Dedicated to a lifestyle of glamour and fitness, the young representatives (ages 14-18) were ready, willing, and able to show the world that they, and their sport of pageantry, could withstand the pressure and spotlight during such a world-renowned event.
Yes, pageantry is the sport of these young women, and they did not disappoint throughout the thrilling and glamorous weekend of competitions and conventions. The weekend included all the glamour, excitement, poise, and beauty that one would expect in a national competition of this caliber. Produced under the direction of new National Director Stephi Williams, the 2018 Miss Arnold Teen Fitness Pageant was a must-see event for anyone who enjoys the sport of pageantry. The national delegates vying for the crown competed within the categories of Personal Interview accounting for 25% of the final score, Athletic Wear (20%), Fitness Talent (20%), Evening Gown (25%), and On-Stage Question (10%).
The 2018 Miss Arnold Teen Fitness Pageant commenced bright and early with the panel style Personal Interview competition. Representing not only the pageant but the Arnold Schwarzenegger brand as well, the distinguished panel of judges were in the unenviable position of looking for the deserving delegate who truly embodied the lifestyle of fitness while also exuding the glamour of pageantry. Questions presented touched upon the subjects of healthy eating, their views on fitness, how they included their friends and families in living a fit lifestyle, the challenges of teens staying fit in today’s accepted sedentary and automated society, and how they would promote the Miss Arnold Teen Fitness Pageant throughout their year as the representative queen. With each challenging question, the judges were amazed with each carefully presented answer and the commitment of each representative.
With the anxiety of the Personal Interview competition complete, it was off to rehearsals in preparation of the final on-stage show. But it was not all work and no play. With such a plethora of competitions to see spread out over the city of Columbus, the young ladies were the stars of the show while visiting the cavernous Convention Center. Also on the agenda was a private tour of the Lorimer Suite, named in honor of the Arnold Sports Festival Co-Founder and CEO Jim Lorimer. This glass encapsulated station is situated high above the convention floor, from which one could literally view the hundreds of convention booths and thousands of attendees moving between competitions while waving to the adoring crowds below. It was the perfect venue to witness the arrival of Arnold Schwarzenegger himself as he made his way through the raucous crowd and waved to the finalists.
Although the title of Miss Arnold Teen Fitness was foremost in the minds of the delegates, the excitement increased exponentially as they learned of a very special and private event to which they were invited. Upon leaving the Lorimer Suite, they posed for the obligatory photo op with the bronze statue of Arnold Schwarzenegger, before boarding their private bus for the special destination. Where the national delegates were special guests at a private screening of the new hit movie Midnight Sun starring Bella Thorne and Patrick Schwarzenegger, whose surname was very familiar to all in attendance. But could this special presentation get any better? Judging by the excited reactions of the contestants and their families, as well as the staff of Miss Arnold Teen Fitness Pageant, the answer was a resounding “YES” as Patrick Schwarzenegger stopped by to personally welcome and pose for photos with each national delegate prior to the movie on the red carpet. As everyone settled into their seats in anticipation of this private screening, the crowd erupted with the knowledge that Arnold Schwarzenegger had just arrived in support of his son and took to the stage to welcome the crowd and enjoy the cinematic release. Was it a hit with memories to last a lifetime? Spoiler alert – there was not a dry eye in the house!
The following morning, with so much excitement and special events behind them, the bus was loaded for the trip to the stage. It was time for the national finals and crowning of Miss Arnold Teen Fitness 2018. Fit, ready, and focused, the delegates prepared to conquer the stage. The standing-room-only crowd rushed to the main stage as the high octane music announced the arrival of the delegates vying for the Miss Arnold Teen Fitness crown. As the delegates bounded onto the stage replete in matching performance attire, the entire convention, attendees and pageant supporters, stopped in their tracks and exuberantly welcomed the young women to the stage. Amidst the crescendo of appreciative applause, the energetic opening production set the stage for the anxiously awaited finals, once again hosted by Chris Kirkpatrick of *NSYNC and new co-host, Emmy Award winning journalist Jessica Ralston.
Since this is the Miss Arnold Teen Fitness Pageant, the first competition of the evening was Athletic Wear. Displaying a dedication to fitness and a fit lifestyle, the crowd demonstrated its approval of each contestant and the acknowledgment of this “sport” which requires as much dedication and perseverance as any other.
Fitness is the resounding theme of the Arnold Sports Festival, and it is omnipresent. Yes, fitness is a required element of competition, especially with Talent Fitness. A common misconception may be that these are young women competing in body building or other similar event, but this could not be further from the truth. This a true pageant, and the sport of these highly fit and talented representatives. If someone doubts the veracity of the physical demands of the talent division, then they have never had to perform a demanding routine in front a discerning panel of judges from all genres of competition: pageantry, fitness, academia, and entertainment. The entertaining routines were as varied as the delegates, with performances such as gymnastics, clogging, lyrical and jazz dance, and cheerleading taking center stage.
This sport is pageantry, and pageantry is poise and glamour, which could mean only one thing—Evening Gown. As the crowd continued to voice its approval during this sport-of-queens, the delegates, attired in their personal fashion choice of Evening Gown, proved that fitness, poise, and elegance belong together on the same stage. With the three on-stage competitions complete, it was time to announce the top five delegates and invite them center stage for the final question.
The judges’ ballots had been cast, and the decision of who would capture the crown of Miss Arnold Teen Fitness would be pronounced. As the crown rose to its collective feet, Pageantry CEO and Miss Arnold Teen Fitness Judges Chairman Carl Dunn was welcomed to the stage to present a special award. In recognition of her dedication, support, and commitment to the ideals of the Miss Arnold Teen Fitness Pageant, the Pageantry Spirit Award was bestowed upon Miss Rebecca Chisolm for her tireless efforts as choreographer and unwavering belief in the Miss Arnold Teen Fitness Organization.
With the applause still echoing in the venue, the top five took center stage as Chris Kirkpatrick announced the results: 4th alternate and recipient of a $1,000 cash prize was Alexis Lubecki (MI), 3rd alternate also receiving a $1,000 cash prize was Madison Yuzwa (OH), $1,000 cash award winner and 2nd alternate Emilee Mills (NH). It was down to the final two, center stage, holding hands, and anxiously awaiting the announcement. As Sofia Strobl (WV) took her position as 1st alternate and the winner of a $1,000 cash award, the crowd roared as Katie Hitchens of Ohio was crowned Miss Arnold Teen Fitness 2018 and given a $6,000 cash award courtesy of longtime supporter Debi Lee, in addition to many other awards.
But one final surprise awaited the Miss Arnold Teen Fitness contingency. Amidst the well wishes and congratulatory celebration, Arnold Schwarzenegger bounded onto the stage to personally congratulate the newly crowned Katie Hitchens, her court, the delegates, and their parents for supporting such a worthwhile endeavor – the Miss Arnold Teen Fitness Pageant, the sport of queens.
As stated by National Director Stephi Williams, owner of pageant production company Crown Garland, “For the Arnold Sports Festival to recognize the value in hosting a pageant competition is a true testament to the validity of our industry and our sport, as their event hosts 20,000 athletes annually in 75 different sporti­ng events. We at Crown Garland are proud to join the Arnold Sports Festival team and Mr. Schwarzenegger in growing this competition and advancing their mission across the country.”