SWEDEN – Nicoline Artursson. Another coincidence that I observed for this year’s simultaneous editions of Miss International and Miss World besides the Kyrgyzstan-Mongolia flip-flop is that the two biggest front-runners for a majority of pageant fans and pundits (including myself) in both pageants are Sweden and Venezuela. Let’s start with this babelicious Swede: she of course aced Beach Beauty and Top Model, figuring in the Top 20 in both, plus she made the Top 24 in the Sports fast-track and Top 30 in Beauty with a Purpose. Not only she is babelicious, she exudes a lot of charm in her interview, confessing her self-described stubborn streak.
TANZANIA – Salha Israel. In most aspects, she rather raw and unpolished. But at least she got shortlisted in the Top 30 of Beauty with a Purpose. The evening gown she sported in Top Model is a love-it-or-hate-it proposition–is it inspired by fishing nets?
THAILAND – Patcharida Blatchford. She has a very English surname–because she’s of course, half-English on her father’s side and she is studying in England. So of course expect to speak in an English accent. She is attractive but apart from a Top 30 citation in Beauty with a Purpose, she has not made as much impact as her other Asian counterparts. I wonder how much interview counts in the overall score?
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO – Lee-Ann Forbes. There are pageant fans and pundits who have a high regard for this lady, but she only placed in the Sports fast-track. It seems the Continental Queen of the Caribbean is likely going to go to St. Barthelemy or Puerto Rico this time. To my eyes, she has a passing resemblance to Brandy.
TURKEY – Gizem Karaca. Clearly she’s no Azra Akin. And well, she was not the primary winner of her national pageant (the winner went to Miss Universe this year). I’m surprised that she actually is very articulate in her interview–she speaks with a perfect American/Canadian accent (because she grew up in those places when she was a child).
UGANDA – Sylvia Namutebi. She figured in the Top 36 of Beach Beauty and Top 24 in Sports. She could be a sleeper possibility for the Continental Queen for Africa, but I think the key rivalry remains between South Africa and Zimbabwe. Interesting note–unlike other contestants who were raised primarily by their mothers, she’s raised by her father because her mother passed away when she was 14.
UKRAINE -Iaroslava Kuriacha. The Continental Queen of Beauty for Europe seems to be up for grabs between Miss Sweden and this lady. Besides figuring in the Top 20 in Beach Beauty and Top Model, she is likewise made the Top 11 in the Talent fast-track with her strikingly graceful dance performance. I wonder what is making her emotional in her interview, as she seems to be constantly in the verge of tears? It’s interesting she started in the interview video talking about harmony between body and soul.
UNITED STATES – Erin Cummins. She figured in the Top 36 of Beach Beauty but did not figure in Top Model–considering that is her profession (the franchise holder for the US is actually Elite Models). She could still conceivably still make the final cut even with only one fast-track placement on her mantle. She is arguably better looking than the reigning Miss World, in my opinion…
URUGUAY – Belen Sogliano. She seems to be a very sweet ingenue and very pretty. But she failed to make an impression in any of the fast-tracks. It’s such a shame she’s being overlooked.
U. S. VIRGIN ISLANDS – Esonica Veira. Though St. Barthelemy and Puerto Rico are the ones being bandied about as the strongest in the Caribbean, some pageant fans and pundits felt that this lovely lady could put a spanner in their works. She figured in the Top 36 in Beach Beauty, Top 30 in Beauty with a Purpose, and Top 11 in Talent with her Michael Jackson-inspired number.
VENEZUELA – Ivian Sarcos. There are some pageant fans and pundits who have quibbles about the cosmetic surgery done on this lady, especially about her nose. But most pictures she looked gorgeous and natural. Whether cosmetically enhanced or not, she arguably has the best figure during the Beach Beauty fast-track, in my opinion, and she sparkles with oodles of charisma during the Top Model round. So it is not surprising she made the fast-track in both. On top of that, she figured in the Top 20 of the Talent fast-track with her tribal dance. She seems to be on track to win it all, but of course nothing is guaranteed in this pageant…
VIETNAM – Victoria Phạm Thuý Vy. She looked like a woman in her 30s instead of her actual age of 21. It’s a good thing there is no popular vote mechanism in place in this pageant because if there was and she wins it, she’ll be deemed unworthy. But she’s actually aces in interview, speaking excellent English (she’s studying in the University of California – Berkeley), and she’s very charming relating stories about her family.
WALES – Sara Manchipp. Her surprise Top 36 placement in Beach Beauty made me recall another petite Welsh who parlayed her figure to the top–Miss Universe 1976 2nd runner-up Sian Adey-Jones.
ZIMBABWE – Malaika Mushandu. With her dignified stance that allowed her to figure in the Top 20 in both Beach Beauty and Top Model, plus being among the first 10 announced for the Beauty with a Purpose fast-track, she is on-track to become the Continental Queen of Beauty for Africa.
All images courtesy of Miss World, Ltd. except where otherwise indicated.
Now that everyone is accounted for, let me trot out my leaderboard to show you how I think everyone all stands:
TOP CONTENDERS: KOREA, PUERTO RICO, SWEDEN, VENEZUELA
LIKELIEST: ARGENTINA, ARUBA, BOLIVIA, BRAZIL, CHINA P.R., ENGLAND, FRANCE, HUNGARY, INDIA, IRELAND, ITALY, JAPAN, KAZAKHSTAN, MARTINIQUE, NORTHERN IRELAND, PARAGUAY, PHILIPPINES, SCOTLAND, SOUTH AFRICA, SPAIN, ST. BARTHELEMY, TRINIDAD & TOBAGO, UKRAINE, UNITED STATES, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS, ZIMBABWE
EXCELLENT: ALBANIA, AUSTRALIA, BELARUS, BONAIRE, BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA, CANADA, CHILE, COSTA RICA, CURACAO, ECUADOR, GEORGIA, GREECE, INDONESIA, KYRGYZSTAN, LATVIA, LEBANON, NEW ZEALAND, ROMANIA, RUSSIA, TRINIDAD & TOBAGO, URUGUAY
FAST-TRACK FACTOR: BAHAMAS, BARBADOS, CZECH REPUBLIC, DENMARK, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, GERMANY, GHANA, GUATEMALA, ICELAND, ISRAEL, JAMAICA, KENYA, LIBERIA, MALAYSIA, MALTA, MAURITIUS, MOLDOVA, NAMIBIA, NEPAL, PANAMA, PERU, PORTUGAL, SERBIA, SINGAPORE, SRI LANKA, TANZANIA, THAILAND, UGANDA, WALES
VERY STRONG: CAYMAN ISLANDS, COLOMBIA, GUAM, HONDURAS, F.Y.R. MACEDONIA, MEXICO, MONTENEGRO, NETHERLANDS, NICARAGUA, NIGERIA, NORWAY, POLAND, SIERRA LEONE, SLOVAKIA, SLOVENIA
STRONG: COTE D’IVOIRE, CYPRUS, EGYPT, GUADELOUPE, HONG KONG CHINA, MONGOLIA, TURKEY
VERY GOOD: BELGIUM, BULGARIA
GOOD: AUSTRIA, BELIZE, CROATIA, FINLAND, GIBRALTAR
FAIR: EL SALVADOR
It has been disclosed that for this edition, there will be a Top 30 whittled down to Top 15 and finally a Final Five. Here is my “Fearful” Forecast:
TOP FIVE: ARGENTINA, KOREA, PUERTO RICO, SWEDEN, VENEZUELA
TOP 15: BOLIVIA, INDIA, ITALY, KAZAKHSTAN, PARAGUAY, PHILIPPINES, SPAIN, UKRAINE, ZIMBABWE
TOP 30: BRAZIL, CHINA P.R., COSTA RICA, ENGLAND, FRANCE, HUNGARY, IRELAND, JAPAN, MARTINIQUE, NORTHERN IRELAND, SCOTLAND, SOUTH AFRICA, ST. BARTHELEMY, TRINIDAD & TOBAGO, UNITED STATES
BUBBLING UNDER: ALBANIA, ARUBA, AUSTRALIA, BELARUS, BONAIRE, BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA, CANADA, CHILE, CURACAO, ECUADOR, GEORGIA, GREECE, INDONESIA, KYRGYZSTAN, LATVIA, LEBANON, NEW ZEALAND, ROMANIA, RUSSIA, URUGUAY, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS
STRIKING DISTANCE: BAHAMAS, BARBADOS, CZECH REPUBLIC, DENMARK, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, GERMANY, GHANA, GUATEMALA, ICELAND, ISRAEL, JAMAICA, KENYA, LIBERIA, MALAYSIA, MALTA, MAURITIUS, MOLDOVA, NAMIBIA, NEPAL, PANAMA, PERU, PORTUGAL, SERBIA, SINGAPORE, SRI LANKA, TANZANIA, THAILAND, UGANDA, WALES
It’s going to be exciting how the finals will all unfold. Hopefully may the panel select the truly worthy.