Because of Miss International’s pageant format where there is no preliminary competition (with the exception of perhaps the forum and behavior throughout the cultural activities and sponsors visits), I feel it is pointless to do a homestretch review. Instead, I’ll save that for a full delegates’ review like I did last year and I’ll use this article to take note of the big standouts and trot out my “fearful” forecast.
In my opinion this promises to be one of the most exciting editions of this pageant I have encountered, as there are eight compelling contenders who could win it all, along with whole slew of other comely contenders to appreciate. This is one of those times you would rue the brutal Top-Ten-Only format implemented by the International Beauty Congress (IBC) since 2014, as it will be a big injustice for so many deserving ladies.
First, I have to start with the host country, Japan (Junna Yamagata)–this country was shut out of the final cut for three consecutive years since the victory of Ikumi Yoshimatsu (and controversy involving a mob-affiliated talent agency that prevented her from dispensing with her duties) but I have a feeling the tides will turn and this lady will break the drought. She got media mileage as part of the team promoting Tokyo’s hosting of the next Olympics at the close of the recent Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, and she exudes charisma in many photos taken of her.
Besides Japan and two other Asians who to me are crown contenders that I’ll dub the “Glorious Eight”, there are several other Asians worth reckoning, that it’s going to be a challenge to find room for them. But we have to give a shout out to India (Rewati Chetri), Korea (Min Jeong Kim), Malaysia (Olivia Nicholas), and Vietnam (Phạm Ngọc Phương Linh.
The blonde contingent are also forces to be reckoned with. First, there is the traditional bias toward reasonably attractive (albeit less-than polished) Finnish girls, which would bode well for Finland (Emilia Seppänen). Other blonde European babes to reckon with include Finland’s neighbor, Sweden (Maria Taipaleenmäki) and Netherlands (Melissa Scherpen). The big countries from Oceania also featured standout Caucasian blondes, namely Australia (Alexandra Britton) and New Zealand (Jessica Tyson). But in my reckoning the strongest blonde (besides the Glorious Eight I’ll be discussing later) is USA (Kaityrana Leinbach), who can conceivably equal last year’s 4th runner-up finish.
Eastern Europe is renowned for its beautiful women, too, and one is a member of the “Glorious Eight”. There are some pageant fans and pundits who rave about Moldova (Alina Chirciu) but I think she seems to lack sparkle. To a lesser extent the same could be said about Russia (Alisa Manenok). I personally like Ukraine (Viktoria Kiose)’s looks.
South America typically provides a bumper crop of competitive standouts and this year is no exception. Besides two members of the “Glorious Eight”, also looking great are Argentina (Yoana Don), Bolivia (Katherine Añazgo), and Peru (Danea Panta).
Central America is a lesser-heralded region, but this year they are also representing strongly. One garnered major buzz after the Forum that she deserves her own spotlight, but another three that deserve notice are Costa Rica (Raquel Guevara), Guatemala (Laura Vadillo Urrutia) and Panama (Daniela Ochoa Barragan).
Africans and non-Latin blacks made a breaktrhough last year with Kenya’s Eunice Onyango’s 2nd runner-up finish. I don’t foresee any African making the same impact this year, but there is some strong complimentary buzz for South Africa (Tharina Botes), but she isn’t black. The black girl that caught my eye thus far is from the Caribbean, Guadeloupe ( Presile Adolphe). Another lady with African features that I found good-looking is representing a Nordic country, Norway (Camilla Devik).
Those that didn’t quite fit in any of the above categories but worthy of notice are Belgium (Palina Tsehalka) and Miss Supranational 2012 and Miss Universe 2014 veteran Puerto Rico (Gabriella Berrios).
From reports at the International Forum event, two ladies seemed to have their stock rise precipitously, to the point some are tagging them as possible usurpers to the front-runners. I don’t think the International Forum holds all the weight, as the classic looks format will still play a significant part. Still, Hawaii (Guinevere Davenport) and Nicaragua (Brianny Chamorro) are forces to reckon with, though in my opinion, not necessarily as charismatic as the “Glorious Eight”.
COMING UP: THE “GLORIOUS EIGHT” AND THE “FEARFUL” FORECAST
All images courtesy of Jory Rivera for OPMB Worldwide unless otherwise indicated.