(L-R) Venezuela, Georgia, Croatia, Philippines
(L-R) South Africa, France, Kosovo and Lebanon
(L-R) Puerto Rico, Brazil, Malaysia and Colombia
(L-R) Mexico, Ecuador, Cayman Islands and USA
(L-R) Czech Republic, Thailand, Paraguay and Japan
(L-R) Greece, Poland, Australia and Angola
First things first, the Miss Universe 2012 Preliminaries lived up to its name of effectively filtering the confidently beautiful (the organization’s current tag words) from the plain beautiful candidates. While there are so many gorgeous ladies competing for this year’s crown, it takes a pre-pageant event like this to see through their respective strengths and weaknesses with a live streaming near-microscopic eye.
And it is with this thought that I highlight first the beauties who pleasantly surprised me, and they are Tamar Shedania of Georgia, Marie Payet of France, Rina Chibany of Lebanon, Daniella Alvarez of Colombia and Vasiliki Tsirogianni of Greece. I was practically ‘ignoring’ these five prior to the Preliminaries. But they showed last night that they are in the competition to be more than noticed and moreover, be recognized of their winning potentials. In particular, my armchair judging showed the first three mentioned as standouts in both rounds. Hence, I won’t be taken aback anymore should they make the cut, i.e., if their individual interview scores cooperate.
As for the rest, I can name the ones who proved their worthiness as early favorites and who are now being named shoo-ins to the Top 16. Irene Esser of Venezuela, Elizabeta Burg of Croatia, Janine Tugonon of the Philippines, Melinda Bam of South Africa and Bodine Koehler of Puerto Rico comprise a quintet that made the best use of their collective half-minutes onstage. They delivered and how! Irene’s vibrant personality mixed well with her expertly-trained presentations. Elizabeta’s knockout beauty blended with smooth turns that can leave any member of the audience breathless. Janine’s catwalk savvy and elegant bearing prompted everyone to sit up and take notice of our bet’s fierce style. Melinda, on the other hand, is clearly a master of projection and sharp moves. And Bodine? She may always have that girlish aura about her, but she uses this countenance to leave an indelible mark on the judges’ scorecards.
There are those who remained very strong inspite of being relatively less effective (but not by much) compared to the ones already mentioned. I am specifically referring to Malaysia’s Kimberley Leggett, Brazil’s Gabriela Markus, Mexico’s Karina Gonzalez, USA’s Olivia Culpo, Ecuador’s Carolina Aguirre and Cayman Island’s Lindsay Japal. If you ask me what seems to be still lacking in them, I may not have easy answers. It could be an excess here or a small shortage of charm there or just an overall performance that merited a cumulative grade lower than the more solid tallies of the contenders ahead of them. At any rate, they should definitely advance in my opinion.
Which leads me to who, I reckon, might be Trump’s picks for 2012. With his fondness for Central European eye candies, I am placing my bets on Croatia, Georgia, Diana Avdiu of Kosovo, Tereza Chlebovska of Czech Republic and, on a geographically different area of Europe, France. Marcelina Zawadzka of Poland and Lebanon (not European but looks like one) could also be joiners, but they may already be on the verge of being the first to be sacrificed if Donald can only scoop five (maximum six) slots.
And as for the two other Asians in my Top 24? Gut feel tells me that either Japan’s Ayako Hara or Thailand’s Farida Waller is likely to pull a Top 16 inclusion. If you ask me who, I would probably point a finger to one of the final telecast judges who happens to be an Iron Chef as clue. (Insert wink here)
Lastly, don’t count out the possibilities of Paraguay’s Egni Eckert, Angola’s Marcelina Vahekini and Australia’s Renae Ayris. The fiery Latina is capable of stealing the limelight from any one of the top presentation placers, while Leila Lopes’ national successor could be the token black qualifier should there be one. Lastly, the Aussie babe – who used to be lording it over my earlier rankings – has slipped based on my assessment of her last night. Hopefully, she can still turn the tide and continue her continent’s good track record in the pageant.
All in all, the Miss Universe 2012 Preliminaries was an eye-opening event, in that it gave all 89 wannabes equal opportunities to shine and give the front-runners a run for their money. Who will make it to my final list of Top 15 (plus one potential online voting winner)? That will have to wait till the morning of the 19th. 🙂