MISS GRAND INTERNATIONAL 2017: AT THE HOMESTRETCH (PART 1)

After the discount-Vegas edition last year, this year’s Miss Grand International promises to regain lost ground and grandeur by holding it in more-pageant-friendly Vietnam.  So far the handling of the pageant went generally smoothly (barring some sash errors and country-misnaming in some early events–like the way the name of “South Sudan” was duplicated in the national costume competition, when one was meant to be called “South Africa”) and there was no attrition–in fact after a final tally of 74 last year, it regained a bit by attracting 77 candidates this year, and all 77 candidates are going to see action in the final.

Comparing the caliber of the candidates this year and last year, I think last year’s group had prettier faces in general, though this year also has its host of pretty faces, but there is a higher proportion of less-conventional beauties in this year’s mix.  It will be interesting what kind of combination of conventional vs. less-conventional beauty we’ll be seeing in the Top 20 this year.  Without further ado, let’s review the 77 candidates starting with…

ARGENTINA – Yoana Don.  This lady proves her semifinal finish at Miss International last year was no fluke as she exudes even more charisma in this pageant than in last year–it looks like she is a lock for the Top 20.

AUSTRALIA – Kassandra Kashian.  This blonde is generally solid, but she doesn’t seem to make a standout impression.

BAHAMAS – Rejean Bosh.  She’s one of the plainest and rawest candidates in this year’s batch.

BELARUS – Marina Panova.  She is good looking and is also very solid on stage.  However she has one major disadvantage–her communication skills are very weak.

BELGIUM – Rachel Nimegeers.  She was a surprise 11th in Miss Supranational 2015, and she does make a very strong impression here, even bringing a bit of the Taliana Twirl during the evening gown segment of the preliminary competition.  She’s someone to watch out for in the Top 20.

BOLIVIA – Mariem Suarez.  She’s a solid performer with an enviable buffed bod.  But would that be enough for people to overlook her angular facial features?

BRAZIL – Caroline Venturini.  She is generally on-point in all aspects, so she could be on track to a Top 20 finish.  However there are a lot of stronger contenders from her continent to contend with so advancing beyond is going to be a challenge with the formidable likes of Ecuador, Peru, and even Venezuela.

BULGARIA – Ralitsa Kandova.  She looks good, has a trim figure, and good stage presence.  She could be a sleeper possibility for the Top 20.

CAMBODIA – Kea Khloem.  This is the first major pageant where all three constituents of Indochina are represented–normally only Vietnam represents this area and this country joins in sporadically.  To be blunt, among the three representatives from Indochina, this lady is the weakest link–she needs some polish to make any impact.

CANADA – Natalie Allin.  See AUSTRALIA.

CHILE – Nicole Ebner.  Like BOLIVIA, she’s solid, but she’s one of the weaker links from her continent.  Yes, she’s generally solid, but she’s also a less-conventional beauty.

CHINA – Xue Jiao Chen.  This lady has strong catwalk and projection skills, though whether that could be her ticket to make the Top 20 remains in question as her facial features are the sort that people debate if they are good enough to pass muster or not.

COLOMBIA – Francy Castaño Suarez.  This is an unconventional beauty with superb stage projection skills and a trim model’s figure.  If the Nawat and the judges appreciate her sort of look, she can make the final cut.

COSTA RICA – Maria Amalia Matamoros.  She evokes the vibe of Leonora Jimenez, her countrywoman who was the original winner of Miss Asia Pacific International 2005 (but was forced to relinquish when she decided to take her chances at Miss World that same year, to surprisingly unsuccessful results).  She’s also a veteran of other major itnernational pageants, having competed at Miss World and Miss Tourism Queen International nine years ago and Miss International six years ago.  She didn’t place in any of them, so you might think more of the same for this one, right?  Well, actually she is exuding a great deal of charisma here, though she is most notable for her spectacular fall in the evening gown preliminaries–could she pull off a Miriam Quiambao and make the cut despite the fall?  It is possible…

Leonora Jimenez at Miss World 2005

CUBA – Lisandra Delgado.  She’s a less-polished Latina, so though lookswise she’s worthwhile I don’t foresee her making the final cut.

COMING UP:  CZECH REPUBLIC to HONG KONG