THOUGHTS OF MISS UNIVERSE
TWO IN A ROW FOR VENEZUELA!!!! I am so ecstatic that Venezuela has become the first country to win Miss Universe two years in a row and I couldn't think of a more deserving country! As I said long ago, Venezuelans have a history of being in their own league when it comes to pageants and Stefania Fernandez has done what so many considered impossible but it just goes to show you that pageants truly are on the up and up. Now, Osmel Sousa (director of Miss Venezuela) can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that he has accomplished what he set out to do which was for Venezuela to win two years in a row! And so the excitement begins. Can Venezuela keep the streak going just like when Texas won Miss USA from 1985 to 1989?? All eyes will be on Venezuela!
So in terms of my predictions, overanalysis didn't really change too much. Earlier on, I was convinced that Venezuela had it because when I saw Dayana Mendoza crown Stefania Fernandez at Miss Venezuela, I was amazed at how stunning Stefania was and that convinced me that Venezuela could win Miss Universe two years in a row but with time, I literally became a 'doubting Thomas' as I started thinking of ways that it couldn't happen. I got 7 of the 15 semifinalists plus 1 alternate (Belgium) and 2 honorable mentions (Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic). The 5 ladies that missed my list were: Kosovo, Albania, Croatia, Sweden and Switzerland which are all European countries but the Europeans that I wanted were eliminated much to my dismay. Kosovo was a big miss for me especially since she got 2nd runner up and Switzerland managed to get to the top 10 but she was a tune-out delegate for me. She fell under my radar but I still don't think she was that strong. Albania, Sweden and Croatia were all eliminated in the first round but I was really surprised that Croatia made it. Ah well, so my full commentary will be posted on September 5th.
ACTUAL TOP 15
Winner= Venezuela-Stefania Fernandez
Winner= France-Chloe Mortaud*
1st Runner Up= Dominican Republic-Ada Aimee de la Cruz
1st Runner Up= Ukraine-Kristina Kots-Gotlib
2nd Runner Up= Kosovo-Gona Dragusha
2nd Runner Up= Hungary-Suzan Budai
3rd Runner Up= Australia-Rachael Finch
3rd Runner Up= Paraguay-Mareike Baumgarten
4th Runner Up= Puerto Rico-Mayra Matos
4th Runner Up= Spain-Estibaliz Pereira
6. France-Chloe Mortaud
7. South Africa-Tatum Keshwar
8. Czech Republic-Iveta Lutovska
9. Switzerland-Whitney Toyloy
Czech Republic-Iveta Lutovska*
10. USA-Kristen Dalton
South Africa-Tatum Keshwar*
11. Albania-Hasna Xhukici
12. Belgium-Zeynep Sever
13. Sweden-Renate Cerljen
14. Croatia-Sarah Cosic
15. Iceland-Ingibjorg Egilsdottir
Vietnam-Hoang Yen Vo
ALTERNATES:Netherlands, Belgium*, Japan, Slovak Republic, India
HONORABLE MENTIONS:Ireland, Puerto Rico*, Dominican Republic*, Peru, Slovenia
* = made actual top 15
So I'm cranking "When Loves Takes Over" by Kelly Rowland and David Guetta which will be the evening gown competition song and I'm loving it! But here it goes! Down to business!
Okay, so here are few things I want to say before presenting the anticipated predictions list. There could be a lot of surprises this year... maybe more than usual. Another thing to think about is that there were 4 black judges and 3 Asian judges on the preliminary judging panel and I already think my list is a little Europe-heavy and there is a noticeable under-representation of Africans and Asians so I'm not expecting to do that well even though I have furiously penned several lists in hopes of coming up with the right one but I'm just going to give up and go with something! So all things considered, here is my final list.
TOM'S FINAL PREDICTIONS FOR MISS UNIVERSE 2009
Winner = France - Chloe Mortaud
So there are several schools of thought here. I figure it is time for either a European or African to win Miss Universe. What better choice than a black European to somewhat combine the two? Then the thought enters my head that Denny Mendez didn't win Miss Universe 1997 and some of this may have had something to do with her being a black woman representing Italy. Will a black woman representing France actually win Miss Universe? Chloe certainly looks like she could change all that. She does have a sensational body and that stunning silver gown is to die for. Apart from that, she carries herself very well and she really impressed me during her web interview as she appeared to be one who had lots of life and vibrance to her. There are many others who also believe France is the right measure of everything to pull off the win. Did you also notice that during prelim swimsuit, the word 'France' appeared on the background screens accidentally when Indonesia was on stage? Was this some sort of subliminal sign?
1st Runner Up = Ukraine - Kristina Kots-Gotlib
Say what you will about this girl but I adore her. I love her style, hair, gown, body and mannerisms. Kristina is just such a memorable character and she is likened often to Kristiina Heinmets, Miss Estonia 1997. Like I said earlier, I think she looks perhaps a little too youthful for the win similarly to Miss Latvia 2005 but you just can't help but notice her and I think she will be a shining star in this competition. Ukraine has been building up to something with recent placements in 2006 and 2007. Also, Miss USA and Teen USA are both white blondes so Miss Universe will probably be something different so I'm thinking this may not be a blonde's year to win.
2nd Runner Up = Hungary - Suzan Budai
Like Ukraine, Hungary has placed in the semifinals recently but very unexpectedly in 2006 and 2008. This year, they have a top contender in Suzan Budai. I love her hair. She has the height and the overall look to carry her far in this competition. Some people question the gown but I think it speaks to her exotic appeal and she is too strong to be denied for me.
3rd Runner Up = Paraguay - Mareike Baumgarten
Another 3rd runner up placement for Paraguay? Very possible! After finishing as 3rd runner up in 2004 and 2006, Paraguay returns with a real contender this year. I really like this girl. She caught my attention since arrivals and she has a beaming smile, a fantastic body, carriage and the gown is a unique twist on a classic appealing design.
4th Runner Up = Spain - Estibaliz Pereira
I was impressed with Spain overall. She has a really natural look with understated beauty. This gown is really a standout and classy and she also has a great body.
USA - Kristen Dalton
Kristen was impressive as expected. It was interesting that she wore a gown that was a slight variation on the gown she won Miss USA in. It almost looks like the same gown but someone started painting stuff on it. I don't think she will get the win but she has the charisma and stage presence to place high. In a sea of Taliana Vargas imitators, Kristen worked her gown magnificently.
Venezuela - Stefania Fernandez
Yes, I know I was mentioning earlier that they would find some way to keep Venezuela from winning two years in a row but the preliminaries changed everything. Her stomach isn't as toned as I had initially thought. Her styling in gown certainly doesn't scream 'winner' but it looks more costume-like than anything else and the ball-on-the-head hairdo like Kosovo is an interesting reminder of an older era but now I'm confused. Did you notice in 2004 and 2006 that Paraguay made the top 5 but Venezuela was omitted those years? Will that happen again this year??? I really still think it would be wrong to deny Venezuela entirely as Stefania was very impressive in her web interview. I would say she was easily the most animated with her gestures and answers were great.
Australia - Rachael Finch
The Aussies have sent us another eyecatcher. She was very engaging in interview and the body and gown are very nice.
Czech Republic - Iveta Lutovska
She's looking great in swimsuit. That's for darn sure! She does have a great body but her working of the gown wasn't as enthused but I could easily see her up there. I almost put her as an alternate but I just couldn't bring myself to do it!
South Africa - Tatum Keshwar
Well this one certainly interviews and carries herself very well. Her body and exotic looks will get her noticed but I will say that I just don't like the gown so I say she can get to top 10 but be eliminated at this stage due to the gown.
Iceland - Ingibjorg Egilsdottir
At one point, Ingibjorg was my winner but she fell hard on my list after preliminaries. Early on, I saw one picture of her in the swimsuit show and those abs and the overall look and her great interview answers had me convinced that she could get it but then after preliminaries, I realized that she doesn't have that long, lean body although she is extremely fit. The gown wasn't the best choice since it didn't really flatter her figure although I liked how she worked it so I still would love to see Iceland place but I'm a little unsure.
Nicaragua - Indiana Sanchez
This girl just has unmistakable presence. Although I wasn't crazy about the gown, I thought her presentation was excellent and made her semifinalist worthy.
Honduras - Belgica Suarez
Her web interview convinced me that this one was one to watch. Honduras hasn't made the semifinals since the 50s and I think it is time for a triumphant return with this stunner. She has a great body, a nice gown and impressed me overall.
Angola - Nelsa Alves
Although her speaking skills were a bit struggly, I love this gown and how she worked it. She does have a really great body and hair and given the preliminary judging panel, I can see her advancing.
Vietnam - Hoang Yen Vo
Again, given the preliminary judging panel, I can see Vietnam advancing as well. She was a standout in body and gown although I'd be lying if the word 'ladyboy' didn't enter my mind while watching her in action. As I mentioned earlier, her placement would be a good way to remind us who hosted last year's pageant similarly to Thailand's placement in 2006.
Netherlands - Avalon-Chanel Weyzig
She changed her gown... (pout). So I was this close to giving her spot but I just am not too sure now. Her gown, body and speaking skills are still good but she didn't drape herself in the fabulous silver sequins like I was hoping so I'm a little disappointed. I'll mention though that all the alternates were in my list at one time but after several rewrites, I just had to settle with some decisions but I can easily see her in the 15.
Belgium - Zeynep Sever
I really wanted to give this girl a spot and she was in and out of my list so many times I just ended up settling as placing her as an alternate. She does have a nice body and face but the gown is a bit of a question mark and some stills in swimsuit didn't look as great as when I watched the preliminaries.
Japan - Emiri Miyasaka
I like how she carries herself like a Latina delegate because in walking and even in her web interview, her hair and facial expressions had that certain Latin spice or sexiness to it. However, this pic in swimsuit shows that she has a bit of a belly issue but I still like her overall look. Her presentation in gown actually killed it for me. I'm sure the gown was expensive but the weight of it clearly made her uncomfortable as she was very slow/awkward walking in it so I can see her not advancing due to these factors but given the prelim judges, she might still be in.
Slovak Republic - Denisa Mendrejova
Initially, I really liked this girl but as time passed, she started to fizzle and her gowns weren't helping. Her odd placement of her hand on her head during swimsuit may have sealed her fate. I liken her to former Miss France, Emmanuelle Chossat in a way that they both appear almost too sexy (borderline slutty) and that isn't the image they are going for.
India - Ekta Chowdhry
I've been very forgiving to India in the past but this year's girl with her distinct face just needs to tone up, do some crunches and lose that paunch. I loved her in gown though and of course, she has decent interview skills. With the tattoos and the short hair, this was a departure from what India usually sends and although I can still see her making it given she had quite a lot of crowd support, she won't advance past swimsuit if she does place so I'm giving her an alternate spot.
Ireland - Diana Donnelly
I really like this girl. She's very bright and I can see her being a Trump pick but gown disappointed me and there's only 15 spots and it's just too hard to say who will get the call and who won't so I ended up putting her here.
Puerto Rico - Mayra Matos
Well we know she's prepared but facially and overall, I just don't consider her as strong as the traditional Puerto Rican delegate. If last year's delegate didn't make it, I don't think this one should.
Dominican Republic - Ada Aimee de la Cruz
I toss and turn on her but I can see it not happening. My belief on this girl is that she is being overhyped similarly to how Ruth Ocumarez was in 2002. I didn't think her body was particularly outstanding especially following Czech Republic nor was the gown for that matter.
Peru - Karen Schwarz
Overall, this girl absolutely delivered in every area so I wouldn't be surprised to see her in the semifinals but not many people are talking about her and I wonder why.
Slovenia - Mirela Korac
Big smile and a nice body, and she carries herself well so she could be up there but the gown was just not good.
JUST MISSING MY LIST:
Russia - This girl just doesn't do anything for me. I want to see it but I don't! She's being talked about by others and she had a few controversial pics but nothing about this girl excites me. She's a pass to me.
Guatemala - I really like this girl but the body seems a smidge on the tiny side and the gown wasn't what I was hoping for.
New Zealand - I initially loved this girl and thought she could be a surprise because she is very pretty but dear Lord, what a disastrous walk. It's like she took a note from Miss Denmark 1995 on how to stomp and clomp your way on stage and her walk in evening gown was way too fast, overdone and not elegant.
Italy - That's a lot of boobage she's got going on in that gown but in terms of face, I just don't see it.
Costa Rica - She was hiding those hips from me... and she is a lovely girl in spite of them but unfortunately I couldn't fit her in.
Mexico - Interview with the long-winded answers made her sound desperate as I mentioned earlier. She carries herself well but her hips are too wide and the gown wasn't a good choice to me. And did she flash her cooch during gown presentation???
Romania - This girl is pretty but oh, alas, that stomach.
Colombia - I expect to see a glam girl from Colombia but like India, this year they decided to send us a short-haired rebellious, untraditional delegate that almost has a Drew Barrymore vibe to her. Will this strategy work? I kinda doubt it but I just don't know.
Sweden - I like her but she could have been a lot stronger. I think she may be best remembered as the girl who will make us wonder if she is Tom Cruise's long-lost lovechild... because we all know Tom Cruise can't get enough of the ladies...
Albania - She was looking strong at first but that black and white gown was atrocious... and with red shoes?? Come on, Albania! Just... come on!
So there it is after a lot of careful consideration! So we'll see if all that excessive analyzing paid off. And just who will the surprises be? Of course, the truth will be unveiled on Sunday, August 23 on NBC!
SECOND ROUND PRETHOUGHTS
Panama has won the national costume competition and preliminaries are coming up so soon my final predictions will be posted but I'm going to do a quick run through of some thoughts I have of each delegate. These judgments are based on what I have seen so far through the photos on missuniverse.com and some impressions from other pageant related boards and websites.
1. Albania - She looks like she has great potential with a good body and strong presence in gown. She could make it but currently I don't have her on my list.
2. Angola - Earlier, I really liked this girl. Her styling in gown really appealed to me and she has a decent body although I would like to see less ribs but the more I look at her face, I'm starting to think it may not happen for Angola this year but preliminaries could change all that because I still have her in mind as a potential semifinalist. Her web interview showed her speaking very slowly and I'm not seeing too much confidence there.
3. Argentina - Do cry for her Argentina. I don't see her making it. Not much appeal.
4. Aruba - No. Face is harsh and body is not up to speed.
5. Australia - People are talking about her. Her national pageant featured a delegate that made headlines because some thought she was too thin but the actual winner of the pageant is making lists. I found her engaging in interview but I'm not quite sure of her. Sometimes I question her chances but she is one to watch.
6. Bahamas - Nice national costume from the host country delegate. And after watching her interview, it's 'people' not 'persons' but anyway, I don't consider her strong enough to be Bahamas' first semifinalist in Miss Universe history. If she does make it, it's because she is the host delegate.
7. Belgium - A lot of people like this girl and I do too...most of the time but there are some pics where I question her but in her interview, she came across as sweet but overall, this is one to watch.
8. Bolivia - I like the sassy gown shot but overall she's just okay but not great so I'll think they'll pass on her.
9. Brazil - The big forehead/low eyebrows bother me. It's enough to keep her out of the running.
10. Bulgaria - Not quite. The gown makes her look short but I didn't find interview to be particularly strong either.
11. Canada - My country's delegate gives a decent interview and has a decent body but the face isn't as strong as I would like. Many people are passing on her due to this, as am I.
12. Cayman Islands - She's a nice girl but I think they'll pass. Cayman Islands has never made the semifinals and I don't think that will change this year.
13. China - I'm not terribly impressed with her body. She has a decent face but she doesn't come across as strong enough to me. Her national costume was quite the dramatic transformation.
14. Colombia - This must be Colombia's departure year because this year's delegate is very different from Colombia's usual glam girl. The short hair is a different look and she gives a decent interview but I expect more full-on glamour from Colombia which is why I feel somewhat disappointed with this one.
15. Costa Rica - This one is a possible surprise. She's decent in terms of face and hair. In interview, she came across as really sincere and sweet but I need to see more of her body.
16. Croatia - I'm not seeing it. The face doesn't really appeal to me but body and gown are fair.
17. Curacao - Decent face but not quite in the body. Appears to lack height.
18. Cyprus - The gown is a no and she looks and acts too young to be considered a serious contender.
19. Czech Republic - I like her gown and the body is good so she could be up there but sometimes her face appears a bit old.
20. Dominican Republic - There's a lot of buzz around her this year. That can't be her gown. It just can't be... I toss and turn on her. Sometimes I think she's being overhyped and could be subjected to Ruth Ocumarez-like consequences but she's in my list somewhere. But will it be as (gasp) an alternate???
21. Ecuador - I liked her interview. I burst out laughing when she said her biggest fear was about not knowing what to do when she is crowned. Oh, you cheeky thing! But the body's not quite there and she's looking a little pale and not so bold.
22. Egypt - Nice face and gown shot but the body is not quite there.
23. El Salvador - Tiny body and okay face. I'm not expecting much from her.
24. Estonia - Some facial shots bug me but she's somewhat decent but I think she's a pass.
25. Ethiopia - Her body is not firm enough and she's too small-bodied which is a shame because she has a decent face. She's not a very strong speaker either.
26. Finland - Tighten up that midsection and the gown's not helping.
27. France - Lots of life in this girl in interview and great attitude. With that silver gown, great body and overall look, she's bound to get noticed. I currently have her as a top 10 finalist.
28. Georgia - No. They'll pass on her. Odd face. Body not up to snuff and don't try and mask all that with a flashy gown.
29. Germany - Well the national costume was interesting and the body is okay but I don't quite consider her strong enough.
30. Ghana - She also needs to watch those ribs. It's interesting that she said she fears falling given that Ghana had two very notable falls in 1998 at both Miss Universe and Miss World, which I suspect had something to do with Ghana's mysteriously first semifinalist placement the following year. You can tell Ghana is bright but I think she needs more power in her presentation.
31. Great Britain - While we are still waiting for the UK to send us a great contender, this girl is looking too pale to me. She's not outstanding to me and I'm not feeling her so I doubt she'll make it.
32. Greece - She's okay. She could be up there because I liked her interview. I'm not too sure on the body and she could do with a better gown.
33. Guam - That's quite the waistline she has there but she lacks height. The gown's decent and the interview was also decent but I just don't see it.
34. Guatemala - Okay. Someone is channeling Ly Jonaitis in that gown shot. she's a good speaker and seems nice and approachable but my concern is her height but I do like this girl and think she's a contender.
35. Guyana - Really?? How can a country so close to Venezuela be so out of it when it comes to styling?
36. Honduras - I'm impressed! This girl showed tremendous confidence in interview and I love her sexy poses. She could very well be the next semifinalist for Honduras since the 50s!
37. Hungary - I'm in love with her hair of course and I'm loving the Leona Lewis type of look but this girl is still placing high in my list. Currently I have her as my 3rd runner up but will that change after preliminaries?
38. Iceland - (((MY WINNER SO FAR))) I saw this pic of her in swimsuit and just like that, she became my winner, then I watched her interview and that sealed the deal. She is the whole package and I would love to see Iceland take the crown given that they have already won 3 Miss World crowns but have yet to capture a Miss Universe crown. It's funny how some countries like Jamaica, Malaysia and Croatia have a much stronger track record at Miss World than Universe but could that change soon?
39. India - I can see her making the semifinals. I don't think she'll make it too far but it's interesting to see a tattooed Indian girl with short hair and a very distinct look in her face which sometimes reminds me of Brook Lee, Miss Universe 1997.
40. Indonesia - Cute face but the body is not quite there and the gown doesn't quite seem right for anything other than a teen competition.
41. Ireland - Another surprise! She has a great interview in which she displayed intelligence and her gown and body are nice. I can also see her being one of Trump's picks so keep an eye on her!
42. Israel - I'm not impressed with this one. Gown and body aren't strong to me.
43. Italy - Laura Valenti has a nice name and in national costume competition, she stuck her leg in the air over her head which demonstrates her flexibility but that isn't really part of the criteria for judgment. Her teeth need some fixing too but she is among the stronger half of the delegates.
44. Jamaica - Decent face and nice interview but I think she could use more muscle definition/toning.
45. Japan - Her presentation in interview was actually very nice and it shows that she was prepared well. She will be on my list somewhere but it might be as an alternate.
46. Korea - Too short and not impressed with gown or body. Interview didn't help either.
47. Kosovo - Body and gown are weak but face and hair are nice. Overall, she's not strong enough.
48. Lebanon - She doesn't have the body for this competition and her interview sounded too rehearsed. Thank you.
49. Malaysia - Body's not up to snuff.
50. Mauritius - Nice girl but she doesn't quite have the body and the gown doesn't seem to flatter her either.
51. Mexico - So you can see that this girl is clearly making an effort to perhaps compensate for the shorter wider frame but her interview came across as very desperate with the winded answers. I like her gown though but she could be out this year.
52. Montenegro - Body and gown are looking quite good and the interview was okay. She's a longshot but a possibility.
53. Namibia - Unfortunately, there isn't anything particularly strong about this delegate.
54. Netherlands - They really stepped up their game with this year's girl. I have her as either a top 5 or 10 finalist. Her interview was good. I love how she works that gown and the body is decent.
55. New Zealand - Surprise! I still need to see that midsection but I like very much what I see! Keep an eye on her. Is it finally time for the Kiwis to make some waves after their last placement way back in 1992?
56. Nicaragua - Like Mexico, she comes across as trying too hard but I can see it not happening.
57. Nigeria - Decent interview and some face shots are better than others but I question the gown and body.
58. Norway - She's a possibility. I liked her interview. She had fun answers. Her body is also looking toned and the gown is nice so she has potential.
59. Panama - She had a good interview but her face is okay and body is also just okay. I can see them passing on her though.
60. Paraguay - I like her. The gown is not so impacting but the face really draws me in. She seems warm yet sexy and the body looks nice so she will be in my list but exactly where, I'm not sure yet.
61. Peru - She could be up there. She has a good body and gown with decent speaking ability.
62. Philippines - Unfortunately, her body looks too soft with practically no definition.
63. Poland - I'm seeing a lot of boobs and a lot of face but not much substance.
64. Puerto Rico - She is obviously prepared for the competition as is the tradition of Puerto Rican delegates but I can see them passing on this girl so she's on the bubble.
65. Romania - Pretty girl but a soft belly. I need to see more of her because currently I have her as an alternate.
66. Russia - I don't get her. I think her face looks a bit harsh and the gown is a no. Her body's okay though and the controversial pics in her past may help sraw attention to her or they probably will hurt her.
67. Serbia - Didn't she sound a bit scared in interview even if she said she has no fears? I'm sure she is feeling a little pressured. She appears to lack height but the gown and body are decent. I'm thinking they will likely pass on her.
68. Singapore - Interview was a little blah and her body seems to be all boobs but not much toning elsewhere.
69. Slovak Republic - This one was initially strong but she is starting to fizzle on me. I question that gown but she has quite the body, hair and overall look so she will be in my list but I don't know where just yet.
70. Slovenia - Big smile and a decent body but I'm not sensing enough power.
71. South Africa - Nice body and good interview and looks to be the strongest from Africa. She will be in my list but I'm not sure where yet.
72. Spain - This one I'm not sure about. I like her flamenco costume and she looks better in some shots than others so I need to see more of her.
73. Sweden - She looks like a mix of Tom Cruise and Lori Loughlin. Will her American actor type looks get her noticed in a big way? Maybe!
74. Switzerland - Decent looking but I don't think body and gown are strong enough.
75. Tanzania - Body isn't looking great and I'm not getting any impact in interview either.
76. Thailand - Well, her interview was decent. BSC Swimwear Thailand is a sponsor so hmmm... To me, she doesn't quite have the body or facial beauty although her gown looks okay but I'm likely going to pass on this one.
77. Turkey - Nothing too impressive about this one.
78. Turks & Caicos - It looks like she knows she's not there to win...just to represent her country.
79. Ukraine - Too adorable! I love the long hair but I think she might be a bit too youthful for the win. I liken her to Miss Latvia 2005 but this girl is currently my 2nd runner up.
80. Uruguay - She's a decent girl and her gown is getting noticed but she will probably fizzle in comparison to the delegates around her.
81. USA - Kristen is looking strong and absolutely knows how to present but I don't think she'll get the win as I currently have her as a top 10 placement.
82. Venezuela - It's hard to deny this girl but they always seem to find a way for one country to not win two years in a row but there's so much life and beauty in Stefania. Venezuela does it again but I have her as 1st runner up currently because I feel that the two in a row thing won't happen. I think they might perceive a double win for a country might make other countries want to withdraw.
83. Vietnam - It's possible. She's not bad overall. A placement for Vietnam this year might be a good throwback to remind us who hosted last year's pageant. I'm likening that scenario to Thailand's placement at Miss Universe 2006 after hosting the previous year 2005.
84. Zambia - The girl with many hairstyles seems like a nice girl but who knows? The body looks okay but height is a concern.
So those are some brief comments on each delegate but nothing is final until after preliminaries when everything could turn upside down. I will post final predictions aa few days after carefully reviewing each delegate in the preliminaries.
I have now returned from vacation so it is time to start posting some prethoughts for Miss Universe 2009. This year, the Bahamas will be hosting Miss Universe for the first time in history. Note that they have also hosted Miss Teen USA 2008 and 2009. The finals for Miss Universe 2009 are on August 23 and will be broadcast on NBC. Don't miss it for the universe!!! The preliminaries will be held on August 16. There was a swimsuit event held on August 9 but it wasn't like last year when a top 5 and winner was announced in Vietnam. It was simply a fashion show. My predictions will likely be posted around August 20 or 21 after I have carefully reviewed each delegate in swimsuit and evening gown and formed some overall impressions.
FIRST ROUND PRETHOUGHTS
Who will be the successor of dynamic Dayana Mendoza of Venezuela and be crowned Miss Venezuela 2009?
Can Venezuela Win Two Years in a Row??
Well, it's no secret that no country has ever won the Miss Universe crown two years in a row but if any country can do it, it would be Venezuela. This country has a history of being in a league of its own when it comes to pageants and consistently has sent high calibre candidates. Many people believe that the most beautiful women in the world are in Venezuela. These receive unparalleled training and are prepared by Osmel Sousa who has a critical eye for beauty and a passion to see Venezuela on top of the pageant world. Venezuela has won Miss Universe 5 times (Maritza Sayalero in 1979, Irene Saez in 1981, Barbara Palacios Teyde in 1986, Alicia Machado in 1996 and Dayana Mendoza in 2008). They have also had 6 1st runner ups (Mariela Perez Branger in 1967, Judith Josefina Castillo Uribe in 1976, Marena Bencomo in 1997, Veruska Ramirez in 1998, Claudia Moreno in 2000, and Mariangel Ruiz in 2003). Venezuela has also been very successful at other international pageants as well. Since 1991, Venezuela has made the top 6 every year at Miss Universe excluding 2004 and 2006 when Ana Karina Anez and Jictzad Vina were mysteriously excluded from the semifinals and both of whom I had predicted to be 1st runner up in their respective years. This year, eyes are focused on the incredibly poised and worthy candidate, Stefania Fernandez. At 18 years old and a perfect height of 5'10", Stefania looks very prepared and ready to handle the pressure of representing the country of the reigning Miss Universe. The state of Texas is well known for winning the Miss USA crown five years in a row (from 1985 to 1989) and one can only wonder if Venezuela can start a similar trend.
The Puerto Rico Chain and the Sweden Chain...and India?
I like pointing out historical chains and I found a few. Puerto Rico has a 8 year chain in some of their wins. Deborah Carthy Deu won in 1985, then 8 years later, Dayanara Torres won in 1993, then 8 years later, Denise Quinones won in 2001, then 8 years later brings us to the present year of 2009 and eyes focused on Puerto Rico's Mayra Matos. Will Mayra continue the chain? Or did someone wearing a dress made of chains break the chain??? That's right, I'm referring to you, Zuleyka Rivera, Miss Universe 2006. When Zuleyka Rivera won Miss Universe 2006, she broke the 6 year chain that India had going since Sushmita Sen won in 1994 and 6 years later, Lara Dutta won in 2000. In 2006, Puerto Rico disrupted the Indian chain so does that mean that India's Ekta Chowdhry will in turn create a flip flop effect and disrupt the Puerto Rico chain and win Miss Universe 2009?? It makes me wonder but I will admit that I don't see Mayra Matos winning this year but Ekta has a very distinct look in her face and she reminds me a bit of Brook Lee, Miss Universe 1997 and India traditionally excels in interview so it is a possibility. Did you notice that Puerto Rico crowned India in 1994 and then India crowned Puerto Rico in 2001?
And there is the Swedish chain. Hillevi Rombin won Sweden's first crown in 1955 and then 11 years later in 1966, Margareta Arvidsson won for Sweden and then 11+7=18 years later, Yvonne Ryding won in 1984, then 18+7=25 years later in 2009, we meet Renate Cerljen, who some have said bears a slight resemblance to Tom Cruise. Sweden has won the crown 3 times but their recent track record hasn't been very good. They last placed in 2006, one year after its first absence ever in 2005 and their last placement prior to that was in 1997. Will Renate be able to turn this around for Sweden? But will all these chains coming into play, they just may all be cancelled out since these things have a history of being broken, when I draw attention to them such as what happened at Miss USA this year when I predicted a win for California only to have her place as 1st runner up only to become fired not long after!
Europe is Stepping Up Their Game!
The European delegation is looking stronger than usual this year. In recent years, Europe hasn't had particularly strong showings at Miss Universe. Their last winner was Russia's Oxana Fedorova in 2002, who was dethroned and their last win prior to that was way back in 1990 with Norway's Mona Grudt! Europe is certainly due for a win so let's shift our attention in that direction for a moment.
Recent Countries Making Waves
Ukraine and Hungary that have had a few unsuspected showing in the semifinals in recent years but this year, these two countries are sending some top contenders. That's a whole lot of hair you've got there, Kristina Kots-Gotlib of Ukraine and I love it! We all know that Donald Trump was furious at the exclusion of Ukraine's 2004 representative Oleksandra Nikoyalenko whom he invited to judge the following year and we saw Ukraine place in 2006 and 2007. With that adorable face, Kristina is a frontrunner for the crown. Is it time for Ukraine to capture the crown? Hungary is another country that has had unexpected recent placements in 2006 and 2008. This year's delegate Suzan Budai is quite appealing. She has great hair and a distinct look. Also from Europe, I'm loving Slovak Republic (remember it's not the gown, it's the girl). I also like Iceland, Romania, Czech Republic and Belgium.
Fabulous in Silver
Miss Netherlands, I didn't even know you existed until I saw this fab picture in this glittery silver frock and you must have read in the past that the way to my heart through the eyes is by draping yourself in silver fabulousness. Some people might consider a gown like this tacky but Netherlands' Avalon-Chanel Weyzig carries it so well! And she has a fabulous name to boot! Netherlands hasn't placed since 1992 so they are due for a semifinalist. France's Chloe Mortaud is also donning a stunning silver ensemble and is also looking poised and confident. France has one Miss Universe winner with Christiane Martel who won way back in 1953 but they haven't won since and their last placement was with the controversial Elodie Gossuin in 2001 who was the victim of a vicious rumor that she was born a man but all was healed when she went on to win the Miss Europe title shortly after placing at Miss Universe. As we have seen in years past, sometimes the early gowns end up not being the gowns the ladies wear in the preliminaries or even the finals so we shall see what happens then.
There will be more prethoughts to come later this week when I will be writing a little paragraph on my impressions of each of the 84 delegates.
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Some photos courtesy Miss Universe L.P., LLLP