65TH MISS UNIVERSE: AT THE HOMESTRETCH (PART 5)

NORWAY – Christina Waage.  She looks prettier from afar, which is probably why many pageant fans and pundits rated her in the bottom of their lists.  But I wouldn’t put her in the bottom of my list as she has strong stage chops and I like her polished impeccable styling in the evening gown round of the Preliminary Competition, particularly that updo.  Extra credits for her national costume, as it’s a nod to the fact that the fictional kingdom of Arendale in the film Frozen is based on her country, so it’s obvious she was playing the character of Elsa from that film.

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PANAMA – Keity Drennan.  The “P” group is now considered the most dangerously fierce group in this pageant, with delegates from countries beginning with with letter delivering consistently fierce performances that it’s a crime that not all of them would advance.  Many pageant fans and pundits laud this lady’s performance and added her in their Top 12 lists.  I agree she delivered a semifinalist-worthy performance indeed, especially with that dramatic gold gown with orange cape.  Though battling for those limited slots would be fierce as there a whole slew of them who delivered performance at that level.

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PARAGUAY – Andrea Melgarejo.  She has a resemblance to Top Chef host/judge Padma Lakshmi.  She also is one of those long-necked Latinas, and I initially presumed she’s taller than her 5’7″ height.  Anyway, her chances may depend on how the judges would appreciate her skinny frame–would they view it as unhealthy bordering on anorexic, or would they consider it as fitting the modern model frame?  But she delivers on the catwalk and looked great in her white gown.  I personally think it’s semifinalist worthy.

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Padma Lakshmi (image courtesy of People.com)

PERU – Valeria Piazza.  Following another long-necked Latina is a thicker-but-buffed one.  She ticks all the boxes, and there is little to find fault with her performance.

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PHILIPPINES – Maxine Medina.  Well, we have to salute her for her playful catwalk in the swimsuit round of the Preliminary Competition–it is a unique, worthwhile catwalk.  Her green evening gown was a gamble that paid off–though it’s not much to look at in photos, in motion the fringes brought drama.  I believe she will be a shoo-in for the semifinals but I have a feeling that she is also going to be the Popular Vote winner, and will free up a slot for another lady to go through–which I think is much needed with so many awesome ladies this year.  Now, people’s eyes will be peeled on how she’ll deliver in the interview rounds–interview has never been her strongest point, and there is talk that this will be the first time our country will employ an interpreter (normally it’s a given the Philippines will speak in English).  We’ll see if an interpreter will help unlock any hidden eloquence that was missing.

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POLAND – Izabella Krzan.  There are unflattering angles on her but there are other angles where she looks good.  But undoubtedly she has a trim, lean figure and strong stage projection skills bringing drama to her rose-pink gown with train.

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PORTUGAL – Flávia Brito.  Traditionally this country would be the weakest link in the “P” Group, and with the exception of 2015 this adage holds true.  But it should be noted she’s far from mediocre and held her own in this formidable group–in a less competitive year she’ll make serious inroads.

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PUERTO RICO – Brenda Jimenez.  See PANAMA.  Her silver fringed gown also makes maximum impact.  But for me her most memorable presentation was in costume with her Christopher Columbus-themed robed costume.

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ROMANIA – Teodora Dan.  She’s the winner of the BB Sweepstakes award, though she covers up her cleavage during the Preliminary Competition with her sash.  Nevertheless, her projection skills are raw and her face is one of the plainer ones around, so she is in no position to be in the running for a semifinalist slot.

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RUSSIA – Yuliana Korolkova.  Her slim frame and pretty face turned a lot of heads.  But I think she’s a long-shot for a semifinals slot, as during the evening gown round of the Preliminary Competition, she wore a gown that is my pet peeve–a sequined black cocktail dress with a satin train tacked on behind it.

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SIERRA LEONE – Hawa Kamara.  She’s the African who garnered the most buzz, with her cropped head and bright, cheerful demeanor.  Not only she’s the inaugural representative to this pageant from her country, she can even bring forth a breakthrough–though Kenya and Tanzania are nipping on her heels to garner that “Africa” slot.

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SINGAPORE – Cheryl Chou.  This country rarely figures as a contender for the semifinals, with the exception of the 63rd edition as of late.  Still, she should be credited as one of the stronger contenders fielded by this country in recent years.

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SLOVAK REPUBLIC – Zuzana Kollárová.  She has a smoldering appeal with her supermodel-worthy looks.  She delivered a polished above-average performance in the Preliminary Competition.

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SLOVENIA – Lucija Potočnik.  This blonde is good looking, but is obviously outclassed by the stunners out there.

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COMING UP:  SOUTH AFRICA to VIETNAM plus the “FEARFUL” FORECAST

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