MISS UNIVERSE 2013: AT THE HOMESTRETCH (CONCLUSION)

SWEDEN – Alexandra Friburg.  She has a rather awkward presence about her, though she is attractive.  There is something about her that reminds me of several Trump Ticket recipients over the past several years, so it might be possible she can be one of those beneficiaries.

SWITZERLAND – Dominique Rinderknecht.  Just like this year’s Miss Czech Republic, this platinum blonde stands out with her short pixie cut.  She actually reminds me of acclaimed Swedish pop singer Robyn.  I initially thought she might have an inside track into the semifinals but her performance in the Presentation Show was underwhelming.  Perhaps a Trump Ticket might be in order for her to make it.

Robyn (image courtesy of theguardian.co.uk)

TANZANIA – Betty Omara.  Just like her predecessor and the legendary 2007 representative Flaviana Matata, she makes a striking presence with her close-cropped hair.  She also has a sophisticated aura about her that makes her a worthwhile competitor.

THAILAND – Chalita Yaemwannang.  I could not fault anything about her presence and performance, and she performs a bit above P.A.T.I.S. level, but there is still something that just doesn’t make me convinced she has an inside track into the finals.

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO – Catherine Miller.  She strikes a stunning presence in her national costume, but her Presentation Show performance was just “aight” as former American Idol judge Randy Jackson would put it.

TURKEY – Berrin Keklikler.  Thanks to a Trump Ticket, her predecessor Cagil Őzge Őzkul made the final cut.  This lady is leagues way more gorgeous than that semifinalist, so it might be likely that she’ll make the cut on her own merit–she has a livelier personality and stronger communication skills than typical representatives from her country to this pageant.  Though there might be much criticism about her evening gown–which resembles the leotard-with-skirt combos sported by Russia, Mexico, and Philippines last year–to her credit she worked it pretty well (yes, it’s more a Janine than a Karina or Elizaveta).  She’s another of my sentimental choices.

Leotard-and-skirt combos from 2012: Mexico’s Ana Karina Gonzalez, Philippines’ Janine Tugonon, and Russia’s Elizaveta Golovanova.

TURKS & CAICOS – Snwazna Adams.  It’s a very unusual name, but to her credit she has a nice personality.  But lookswise, she is not in serious contention.

UKRAINE – Olga Storozhenko.  In my opinion, she has the prettiest face in this year’s pageant, and I love the tone of her voice when I watched her “Truth and Dare” video.  She likewise delivered the goods during the Presentation Show–I particularly salute how she was able to pull off the “sloppy hair tie” that stumped the reigning Miss Universe Olivia Culpo when she tried that on during her Presentation Show last year.  She’s my choice to win it all, but nothing is set in stone, especially with a wide open competition this year.

Miss Universe 2012 Olivia Culpo during her Presentation Show last year

U S A – Erin Brady.  When she arrived in Moscow, pageant fans and pundits criticize her as she seemed shorter than most of the delegates in this pageant.  Then came the National Costume as a majority (including myself) found it repulsive.  But everything is redeemed in the Presentation Show as she delivered a great performance that seems to help secure her placement in the semifinals.

VENEZUELA – Maria Gabriela Isler.  Prior to her arrival in Moscow, pageant fans and pundits thought that she seems to be losing momentum with the makeovers Osmel imposed on her.  But as she set foot in Moscow, she roared with fierceness, projecting with a balance of a game, sympathetic personality.  The only chink in an otherwise flawless, top caliber performance was the way she descended the steps in the evening gown round of the Presentation Show, as she displayed difficulty walking in an otherwise resplendent white beaded number.

VIETNAM – Trương Thị May.  Here is one who deserves more notice than what she’s getting, as there is nothing to fault about her performance all throughout.  Still, just like Thailand there is something about her that doesn’t make me convinced she has an inside track into the finals.

Now that all 86 delegates are accounted for, let me trot out my leaderboard:

TOP CONTENDERS:  BRAZIL, ISRAEL, PUERTO RICO, SPAIN, UKRAINE, VENEZUELA

SHOO-INS:  BOLIVIA, FRANCE, PHILIPPINES, POLAND, TURKEY, U S A

LIKELIEST:  BAHAMAS, CANADA, CHINA, COLOMBIA, COSTA RICA, CURACAO, CZECH REPUBLIC,  DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, GREAT BRITAIN, HAITI, HUNGARY, INDIA, INDONESIA, ITALY, JAMAICA, KOREA, MALAYSIA, MYANMAR, NICARAGUA, PANAMA, PARAGUAY, RUSSIA, SOUTH AFRICA, THAILAND, VIETNAM

TRUMP FACTOR:  AUSTRALIA, AZERBAIJAN, NETHERLANDS, SWEDEN, SWITZERLAND

EXCELLENT:  ANGOLA, ARGENTINA, CHILE, CROATIA, ECUADOR, GERMANY, GUATEMALA, JAPAN, KAZAKHSTAN, NAMIBIA, NEW ZEALAND, PERU, SLOVENIA, TANZANIA

VERY STRONG:  AUSTRIA, GREECE, LITHUANIA, SLOVAK REPUBLIC, TRINIDAD & TOBAGO

STRONG:  ESTONIA, FINLAND, GABON, GUYANA, LEBANON, MAURITIUS, MEXICO, ROMANIA, SERBIA

VERY GOOD:  ARUBA, DENMARK, EL SALVADOR, GHANA, NIGERIA, SINGAPORE

GOOD:  BELGIUM, BOTSWANA, BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS, ETHIOPIA, GUAM, NORWAY, TURKS & CAICOS

FAIR:  BULGARIA, HONDURAS, SRI LANKA

Now, let me trot out my “Fearful” Forecast:

TOP FIVE:  BRAZIL, PUERTO RICO, SPAIN, UKRAINE, VENEZUELA

TOP TEN:  BOLIVIA, FRANCE, ISRAEL, PHILIPPINES, TURKEY

TOP 16:  COSTA RICA, GREAT BRITAIN, JAMAICA, POLAND, RUSSIA, U S A

BUBBLING UNDER:  BAHAMAS, CANADA, CHINA, COLOMBIA, CURACAO, CZECH REPUBLIC,  DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, HAITI, HUNGARY, INDIA, INDONESIA, ITALY, KOREA, MALAYSIA, MYANMAR, NICARAGUA, PANAMA, PARAGUAY, SOUTH AFRICA, THAILAND, VIETNAM

STRIKING DISTANCE:  ANGOLA, ARGENTINA, AUSTRALIA, AZERBAIJAN, CHILE, CROATIA, ECUADOR, GERMANY, GUATEMALA, JAPAN, KAZAKHSTAN, NAMIBIA, NETHERLANDS, NEW ZEALAND, PERU, SLOVENIA, SWEDEN, SWITZERLAND, TANZANIA

I’m glad to hear despite the furor over Russia’s anti-gay policy, fans and supporters of the delegates (most of whom are gay) seemed to be unharmed thus far.  I have to admit that I’m not as confident in my forecast in this pageant as I was in Miss World, as the roster is actually very much wide open–no decisive front-runners abound so it would be interesting how the finals would unfold.  Best of luck to all the delegates.

JUST ME!

JOSEPH

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