MISS WORLD 2013: AT THE HOMESTRETCH (YELLOW TEAM, PART 1)

YELLOW TEAM:  This team features a whole host of ladies from Eastern Europe, plus some sleeper contenders who might usurp the crown away from the favored ladies presumed to be in the Red, Blue, and even Green teams.  The have already collectively won the Sports challenge and the 2nd to 5th places in the Talent challenge finals were from this team.  Could they dominate in the finals?  Let’s begin with…

AUSTRALIA – Erin Holland.  The drop-dead gorgeous 2nd runner-up from last year, Jessica Kahawaty, is a tough act to follow.  But this lady is likely to fare pretty well and hold the fort.  This opera singer predictably made a splash in the Talent challenge event, placing second behind Indonesia.  She’s also a good looker and a strong communicator, so prospects are strong she’ll secure at least a Top 20 placement.

UPDATE:  She also placed 2nd in Beauty with a Purpose.  She is on track to be in the Top 10 as a result.

BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS  – Kirtis Malone.  We typically expect this country to fare in the bottom of the pack, and lookswise, it seems to be a likely scenario for this lady.  But this lady possessed a major talent, and with her performance of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” (channeling the X-Factor (UK) Series 5 champion Alexandra Burke’s version), she earned 4th place in the Talent challenge final.  Added with strong communication skills to boot, she probably generated the best possible placement this country might ever have in this pageant.

BULGARIA – Nansi Karaboycheva.  She’s a cute and pretty ingenue, though a tad raw, in my opinion.  I found it odd that she generated a whole lot of YouTube hits for her contestant introduction video, but well, she is a pretty babe, and perhaps she does have a fan base that I’m not quite aware of.   Anyway, though she’s ranked as a mere reservist, she was prominent playing volleyball in the Sports challenge.  She also made the Top 32 in Beach Fashion.  Who knows, she might figure in the Top 20 if the judges don’t mind her halting conversational skills.

Volleyball with teammate Miss Netherlands

CANADA – Camille Munro.   Pageant fans and pundits don’t have a high regard for her looks, and would relegate her to the bottom.  But then, she got to participate in the volleyball round of the Sports challenge final even if she was not one of those short-listed, and her dancing skills earned her a slot in the Talent challenge finals and actually ended up in 5th place.  She seems to also be likely to be a factor in Beauty with a Purpose, and she has great communication skills, so she might fare better than most pageant fans and pundits may expect.

5th place contemporary dance performance.

COTE D’IVOIRE – Aissata Ezzedine.  She is one of the better looking contestants from her continent in this year’s pageant, and it is not that surprising she figured in the Top 32 of Beach Fashion.  Now her making the Top 20 would depend with how she impressed the judges in the interview rounds, and how they highly regard her unique Beauty with a Purpose project (about ulcer of buruli).

CZECH REPUBLIC – Lucie Kovandova.  I initially thought she would make serious inroads into the Top 20 as she made an initial splash making the Top 32 in Beach Fashion.  But not much else is buzzed about her since then and she didn’t figure in any other challenge event (unlike her Slovak counterpart who made it in three events).  We just hope that she impressed the judges in the interview rounds.

FIJI – Caireen Erbsleben.  Well, she’s okay looking, but not a standout, but it’s nice to see this country seeing action in this pageant.

GEORGIA – Tamar Shedania.  She seemed to be regarded as an early favorite, as the reigning Mr. World, Francisco Escobar posted her photo on his page.  But as the challenge events came around, she failed to figure in any of them.  It might also seem she fell out of favor as she expressed dissatisfaction over her non-placement in the Top Model challenge event (though the gripe was now deleted from her Facebook page), and she then posted her portfolio of modeling covers and appearances in Roberto Cavalli’s fashion shows and FTV (Fashion TV).  Knowing how Miss World works, it will not win them over to her side, unfortunately.  I think what hindered her in the looks events were styling issues and how she approaches them–like being too heavily made-up in the Beach Fashion event for instance, and looking too fierce instead of regal in the Top Model event.  It’s just too bad that she couldn’t catch a break in this pageant.  Like Miss Argentina, her “selfies” were way more impressive (there are shots where she actually looked like Natalie Portman).

Doesn’t she look like Natalie Portman in this “selfie”?

GHANA – Carranzar Naa Okailey Shooter.  When I first laid eyes on her in her impressive introduction video, one lady came to mind:  US First Lady Michelle Obama.  It’s as if I see a skinnier, younger version of this glamorous and dignified icon.  She’s radiant, gorgeous, articulate, educated, and charismatic.  Her cause is similar with Cote D’Ivoire, tackling buruli ulcer, but she presented it more effectively that she made a bigger impact.  It’s not surprising that she made the Top 11 of Beach Fashion.  It might be a bit surprising she failed to hit the Top 10 of Top Model, but I think despite some fans and pundits panning her headdress in that event, she seemed to still look stunning and probably missed the cut by very little.  It might seem that Cameroon might have the edge for the Miss World – Africa title (with finalist showings in Talent and Top Model) , but there is still room for her to wrest that title back.  I wonder if there is extra credit due as even if she was not short-listed for the Sports challenge, she participated in the Waterbucket portion as some photographs reveal.

UPDATE:  It seems Miss World – Africa is now safe and secure in her hands.  She ranked 3rd in Beach Fashion and 7th in Beauty with a Purpose.

At the Waterbucket round of the Sports challenge final
US First Lady Michelle Obama (image by Michelle Misener for Huffington Post)

HONDURAS – Monica Elwin.  Most Central American contestants in this year’s pageant are plain and rather unpolished, and this lady is one of them.  Considering she didn’t figure in any of the challenge events, it’s highly likely she’s at the bottom of the pack.  A redeeming factor is her amusing profile video.

IRELAND – Aoife Walsh.  She’s good looking, but we’ve seen better stunners from the Emerald Isle.  Though she doesn’t have a video handy, she has a cause for Beauty with a Purpose–Irish Autism Action.  Will she receive credits for it, at least?

ITALY – Sarah Baderna.  She is not what I would classify as a conventional beauty, but she has figured prominently in the looks-oriented challenge events of Beach Fashion and Top Model.  On top of that, she’s part of the winning Yellow Team.  She may not have taken part in the Volleyball round, but she took part in the rest.  Though she may not have a video of her project, she does have a presentation that you can find on the Miss World website, about the site of Emilia Romagna.  Wonder if this makes her a Top Five contender and possible crown usurper?

Walking the plank with Miss Netherlands.
With Miss Philippines

MACEDONIA, FYRO – Kristina Spasenoska.  It’s odd that I couldn’t find a solo photo of her in sarong (a similar situation with Miss Botswana).  Anyway, she seems to be an attractive lady but she seems to be ending up as “just another pretty face” as she failed to figure in any challenge event.

MALAYSIA – Melinder Bhullar.  In an extremely competitive Asian group, this pretty and articulate contender couldn’t seem to catch a break as she failed to figure in any challenge event short-list.  All she could hope for to make serious inroads is if she impressed the judges in the interviews and her Beauty with a Purpose project, and if she earned some credits in the Top Model competition (she looked rather elegant that I think she made a positive impression).

UPDATE:  She is due for an upgrade as it’s announced she ranked 5th in the Multimedia event.  Glad to hear she’s finally back in contention.

MARTINIQUE – Julie Labrasseur.  With her trim figure and distinctive braids, she figured in the Top 32 of Beach Fashion.  She’s attractive, but there are stunners from this French département d’outre-mer that I have witnessed before (from Miss Earth, though).   She resembles American Idol Season 10 finalist Naima Adedapo.

American Idol Season 10 finalist Naima Adedapo (image courtesy of Fox)

NAMIBIA – Paulina Malulu.  She made the Top 15 of Miss International last year, but so far she is not making an impression in this pageant.  There are a few other Africans who have the edge thus far, but she’s hoping to turn the fortunes around by parlaying her strong communication skills to impress the judges and hope that her Beauty with a Purpose project gets noticed.

All images courtesy of Miss World Ltd unless otherwise indicated.

COMING UP:  YELLOW TEAM, PART 2

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