GERMANY– Valeria Bystritskaya. Her main strength is her lean and slender model frame. Her face is a bit of an acquired taste—she resembles E! News host Giuliana Rancic. Her stage skills are raw, at best. Middle-of-the-road contender in my book.
GHANA– Erika Nego. As Miss Minnesota USA two years ago, she made the Top 15. Even as she performed solidly during the Presentation Show, I think it will be an uphill battle for her to make the final cut. It’s still a conceivable possibility, but there are worthier, more charismatic choices out there.
GREAT BRITAIN– Chloe-Beth Morgan. Yes, she’s a surprise 2nd runner-up at the Miss International 2009 pageant. But I don’t foresee her breaking the 28-year British drought in this pageant. Her facial features could be attractive at some flattering angles, but they often look a tad too harsh otherwise. Come to think of it, she could pass for Miss ElSalvador’s more attractive and sophisticated older sister…
GREECE– Iliana Papageorgiou. Pageant fans and pundits were impressed with her sleek modeling photos when she was announced as the handpicked choice to represent the financially strapped nation. But they want to see if she could deliver in candids. She actually did, though she wasn’t buzzed about as attention was directed towards other delegates. But during the Presentation Show, she created a major splash strutting professionally in her sleek white evening gown and showcasing a lean and sleek model frame during the swimsuit round. There are some who are comparing her to Miss Universe 2001 1st Runner-Up Evelina Papantoniou—I won’t hype Iliana to that high level, but I can declare that it seems a Top 16 slot is secured for her after that sterling Presentation Show performance.
GUAM– Shayna Afaisen. She is clearly not in serious contention to make the final cut, but she has a nice radiantly cheerful face. It’s the sort that you assume would win Miss Congeniality—but that award went to someone else this year.
GUATEMALA– Alejandra Barillas. Wonder how she beat Jessica Scheel in her national pageant? Jessica Scheel replaced her as she incurred an injury last year, and Jessica brought her country to the Top 10, officially ranking 9th. Now that she’s given the chance to compete, could she outdo Jessica? I doubt it—she’s just too plain in my eyes, and though she took a welcome fashion risk sporting a long-sleeved black lace evening gown during the Presentation Show, she couldn’t quite pull off the charisma needed to make it work. But she redeemed herself a bit during the swimsuit round as she strutted with a lively gait.
GUYANA– Kara Lord. Well, she performed creditably during the evening gown round of the Presentation Show sporting an off-white lacy top with golden sequined skirt. In the swimsuit round, she’s the second nominee for the Flapper award.
HAITI– Anedie Azael. There were these striking modeling photos featuring her with very curly hair, so it was a surprise that when she was crowned in her national pageant (and when she competed inBrazil) that she went for a more conventional pageant look with long, straightened-but-wavy black hair. Some of her early fans felt it was a radical wrong step. But then, in candid shots she started sparkling (even has a shot where she resembled Venus Raj), and we discovered she has a YouTube account where she actually filmed some inside views of the pageant proceedings, showcasing a vibrant personality that was not on display during her video interview (and giving us a nice alternative look at her fellow delegates). Though her hairdo still remains in the pageant-y thick and wavy mode, she evoked the vibe of a cross between actresses Thandie Newton and Zoe Saldana. I will not be surprised if she makes the final cut.
HONDURAS– Keylin Gomez. Maybe it’s right that Anedie straightened her hair, because she might otherwise be compared to this lady, who does make a distinctive presence with her brown ringlets. She’s another member of the P.A.T.I.S. club (see MissEcuador).
HUNGARY– Betta Lipcsei. There were pageant fans and pundits who actually loved this lady with such a passion and placed her in serious contention for the semifinals. Yes, she’s great looking, and her catwalk skills are solid (she pulled off what would otherwise be a poofy disaster of a green gown rather well), but in my eyes she’s not all that, though still a worthwhile contender. I just have to note that during the swimsuit round of the Presentation Show, I noticed she’s got “guns” (muscular arms). Visions of Madonna came rushing through my head…
INDIA– Vasuki Sunkavalli. Several pageant fans and pundits dislike this lady with a passion, declaring she is a major letdown from the illustrious recent past of this country (with a 10-year semifinalist streak from 1993-2002). Hurting matters further was a curt Facebook message she posted addressing fans who are requesting more pictures of her inBrazil. Okay, yes, her face is an acquired taste (she reminds me of actress Melina Kankaredes, former star of CSI:New York), but there is that hint of the Sushmita Sen*4 fierceness. She’s also a strong communicator judging from her video interview. Then, she’s actually a pleasant surprise during the Presentation Show, as she performed at a top-notch level onstage in both evening gown and swimsuit rounds. There are at least three Asians whose slots seem secure—with Trump & Co. allow room for some more?
*4 Remember that Miss Universe 1994 and Bollywood actress Sushmita Sen is now the national director for I Am She, the franchise holder in India for this pageant.
INDONESIA– Nadine Alexandra Ames. I was amazed by her strong command of English in her video interview, and she’s continuing a streak of worthwhile contenders from this nation. If it wasn’t for a whole host of excellent contenders from her continent, she would’ve made more serious inroads into the finals. Interesting note about her green evening gown at the Presentation Show–it has a very high slit that was cut all the way to the hips, revealing that there is a leotard (or panties) underneath. I’m wondering what kind of radical change occurred in Indonesian society over the past 15 years, as there are no mullahs making a big fuss with the wardrobe choices and the fact that she willingly wore a bikini?
IRELAND– Aoife Hannon. Irish Gaelic lesson: her first name sounds exactly like the way Americans pronounce the name “Eva” (ee-vuh). She’s such a major letdown from the smoldering Angelina Jolie-like hotness that was Rozanna Purcell (oh, her strutting in swimsuit as Elvis’s song “Burning Love” is tattooed in my head). She sported an actually lovely shiny green gown during the Presentation Show, but she ruined it with a lousy catwalk.
ISRAEL– Kim Edri. She has one of the prettiest faces in this year’s pageant. Too bad her figure is too thick for today’s pageant standards. The red gown she wore at the Presentation show exacerbated matters. There are still pageant fans and pundits who still place her in serious contention for the finals on the sole basis of her pretty face. I am unfortunately not one of them. Maybe a Trump Ticket is in order…
ITALY– Elisa Torrini. During the Presentation Show, she is the winner of the Over-the-Top award, beating Miss Bahamas. She strutted with aplomb in a black minidress-with-train during the evening gown round, and she was smiley and lively during the swimsuit round. If we based her communication skills from her video interview, she sounds like a complete bimbo, and one memorable note about her was that she was briefly hospitalized for an undisclosed illness (some reported it affected her reproductive organs). There is this gnawing feeling she is in contention for a Trump Ticket.
All photos courtesy of Miss Universe Organization, L.P. LLLP unless otherwise indicated.
COMING UP: JAMAICA to PANAMA