Miss Universe 2011 is about to start in Brazil, but the question is: are Brazilians aware of it? Well, pageant followers certainly are, but it looks like that’s about it. The candidates have started arriving in São Paulo, the host city of Miss U11, and there’s about nothing in the media. No anticipation, no news. Hopefully it will get better as the pageants keeps rolling, however, the host country certainly has sinned when it comes to “spreading the news” about such an important event being held there to create momentum for it.
Now, looking at the brighter side, Miss Universe 2011 brings a record-number of participant countries to Brazil, 89 in total. Not only they are more than ever before, but also it looks like we will have a very competitive group, perhaps, one of the most competitive in recent history.
GB has its own list of 15 pre-pageant favorites. In alphabetical order, and no particular ranking order, they are…
ANGOLA – Leila Lopes
With all the negative press and controversy around the “hometown girl” (Miss Brazil), it looks like Miss Angola, Leila Lopes, is the Portuguese speaking beauty we should keep an eye on. She is stunning and has been preparing for this since last December, when she was elected in her country. There’s a good chance she will be in the top 5 (or top 4?).
AUSTRALIA – Scherri-lee Biggs
Some say she looks like Hollywood Star Reese Whiterspoon. Others believe she looks even more stunning than Reese! Perth’s native Scherri-lee Biggs is one of the front-runners in this year’s pageant. Australia placed in the top 5 in the last two years, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see her walking away with a 3rd Miss Universe crown for her country.
CANADA – Chelsae Durocher
Chelsae is Canada’s high hope for a strong comeback after 5 years without placing among Miss U’s semi-finalists. She has beauty, poise, brains, and experience: in 2010 she was the 2nd runner-up in Miss Global Teen 2010, also held in Brazil.
CHINA – Luo Zilin
China started well competing in Miss Universe, with a 3rd place in 2002. However, after that, the Chinese representatives have failed to make the cut year after year. It should all change with Luo Zilin, prepared in New York to fight for the crown. Is she the one to beat?
COSTA RICA – Johanna Solano
Usually the favorite Latin candidates in Miss Universe come from Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Mexico, or Colombia. Not this time! Costa Rica’s Johanna Solano seems to be the strongest bet among Spanish speaking beauties in Brazil. Can Costa Rica conquer its first Miss Universe title?
GREECE – Iliana Papageorgiou
Iliana is fresh, has great experience in the modeling world, and knows how to work the runway. We expected Greece to do well.
HUNGARY – Betta Lipcsei
Hungary never had such a strong girl competing in Miss Universe. Betta has one of the faces of the competition, we must see if she also has the sparkle and personality to keep going. If she does, watch out for her!
KOSOVO – Aferdita Dreshaj
After some interesting recent results, including a 3rd place in 2009, pageant fans have been observing Kosovo with caution and respect. Ever since Aferdita was crowned as Miss Universe Kosovo 2011, she’s been considered a shoo-in for the semi-finals by most “missologists”. How far will she go?
MALAYSIA – Debora Henry
Beautiful, elegant, intelligent. Debora Henry has all it takes to win the 2011 Miss Universe crown. A favorite and semi-finalist in Miss World 2007, she also has the experience. The only time Malaysia had a Miss Universe semi-finalist was in 1970. We bet it’s about to change!
MAURITIUS – Laetitia Darche
Mauritius has never competed strongly in Miss Universe. It has never had a semi-finalist or award winner. As a matter of fact, it has never had a favorite. Or should we say, it HAD never had… up to now? Stunning and exotic (in the best sense of the word!) Laetitia could make history for this Indian Ocean island-nation.
PARAGUAY – Alba Riquelme
Another Paraguayan Riquelme, by the first name of Larisa, is very famous and considered a sex symbol in Brazil. Miss Universe Paraguay, Alba Riquelme, is even more beautiful (and sexier?), and should be among the most popular choices among the Brazilian media.
SPAIN – Paula Guillo
In the year when Spain lost its only Miss Universe (Amparo Muñoz, Miss Universe 1974, died earlier this year), Paula Guillo will try to conquer a 2nd crown for her country. Miss Spain was prepared in Venezuela for her challenge, and has one of the most striking faces in the competition.
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO – Gabrielle Walcott
Being Miss World 2008′s 2nd runner-up and the winner of the Beauty With a Purpose Award, say a lot about this woman. She won’t be among the tallest gals around, but will certainly be among the brightest and most beautiful ones.
UKRAINE – Olesia Stefanko
Last year Ukraine was very close to winning its first Miss Universe crown, finishing in 4th place. Many believe Olesia has the looks to go even further in the competition this time around.
USA – Alyssa Campanella
Last, but certainly not least, we have Miss USA, California’s Alyssa Campanella. It has been 14 years since America’s last Miss Universe victory, and Alyssa has it all to bag the Universal crown.
It is interesting to note that, besides the USA, other “heavy weight sashes” are not competing as fiercely as people expected them to be. It’s an open game with many cool possibilities to run away from that “common place” people are so tired of in Miss U.
We wish Miss Universe’s 60th edition will be a great and original one, ending with a superb winner. May the competition begin!
photos courtesy of Miss Universe