The competition will begin very soon and with this year being lauded as one of the best ever I'm very excited to see what happens. I've been an on and off follower of the national pageants but I've reviewed all the contestants to come up with my definitive pre-pageant favourites list.
As this year I'm not sure if Miss Universe will change their number of placements I'm going to use MUOs newest format of 16-8-4 seen at Miss USA 2011.
So without further ado My Top 16,
Karin Ontiveros, 23
Since 2004 Mexico has had an iron grip on Miss Universe, and Miss World in fact, with only one blip in 2009. But Ximena Navarrete (MU10) quickly avenged Karla Carillo; left out of the Top 15, and Elisa Najera; who should have been higher than 4th Runner Up, by winning the Miss Universe title.
It is no different for 2011. Karin Ontiveros is a beautiful girl with doll-like features and a stunning physique as well. She will undoubtedly be well prepared for Miss Universe, as is the norm with Miss Mexico's, so I will be surprised if she doesn't make the first cut.
Kelly Weekers, 21
Originally I overlooked Kelly but upon reading rave reviews about her I took another look and was floored by her potential. Miss Universe 2011 is lacking in blonde potential semifinalists so Kelly should stand out from the crowd. She is naturally pretty so please don't overstyle her, especially her hair and makeup. However I still have my concerns with Kelly, she can easily drop from my Top 16, but for now she represents as one of the blondes in my favourites list.
Will she make the semi-finals? I doubt it but there's a chance.
Natalie Vertiz, 19
From one barbie doll to another to another, all three of the girls I have mentioned have such doll like faces and my god they are tall as well! Natalie reminds me of Gona Dragusha (MU09 2nd Runner Up) mixed with Sabrinne Al-Tawil (BP11 Top 15) but maybe only because both sported bun do's in their respective pageant!
I wouldn't say Natalie is a sure fire favourite of mine, there's potential for her to drop off my list, but I do think if she is competitive she'll be a strong force in the pageant. I believe she has a strong chance of making the cut.
Natalia Rodriguez, 24
A lot of people think she's the Photoshop queen of the pageant but from what I've seen up to now, candids as well, she is an absolute stunner. The only reason why she doesn't rank higher with me is because I've not seen enough of her in candids being relaxed and her natural self. I would love to see Natalia prove all her doubters wrong in the pageant but trying to place with an Argentinian sash will be a challenge.
There's a chance she could make it but she'll have to work hard for it.
Yayra Erica Nego, 26
Rewind back to 2009 just before Miss USA 2009, which was won by Kristen Dalton, I placed her in my alternatives list. So why is she now sitting in the Top 16, a pageant of higher status with a high quality field? I'm not too sure myself. When Erica was crowned Miss Ghana I was shocked and amazed because I didn't expect to see Erica ever again but when I reviewed her most recent images I saw something special I either missed or she didn't have in Miss USA 2009. It was that natural appeal that draws you into the top contestants and besides MU11 is missing a fierce black delegate.
Will she make the cut? Probably not but who knows.
Sheldry Saez, 19
If I'm to be utterly honest I don't get the hype for Sheldry. She's beautiful and photogenic but I still haven't seen that photo which makes me go "She's got it". In a way I've placed her in my Top 16 because everyone else has and I think I'm probably the one that has missed the plot not the masses. My gut instinct also tells me that I'll too probably jump on the bandwagon once she arrives in Brazil.
She will probably make the cut so I better start liking her soon, jk.
Shamcey Supsup, 25
I hear someone calling foul from a mile away. In fact I haven't just placed Shamcey up there because she's an architect or because I followed Binibining 2011 so religiously it's actually because I truly like Shamcey. She was always one of my favourites for the Binibining Universe title along with Patricia Tumulak so I wasn't amongst those crying buckets that MJ or Patty didn't make it. I hope Shamcey does well because she deserves to be recognised though considering China, Australia and Malaysia will likely have places already gaining a fourth spot for Asia Pacific looks unlikely unless she gets a Trump Card (unlikely) or gets voted in (very likely).
Scherri-Lee Biggs, 20
I must be one of few who hasn't put Scherri-Lee in my Top 8 or 10. I like Scherri-Lee, she's gorgeous, but like with Sheldry and to some extent Natalie I still don't see "it" yet. However Scherri-Lee is much closer to making my Top 8 than my bubbling list but until I see that edge from Scherri-Lee she won't penetrate my Top 8.
And of course she'll make it into the first cut, she could by all means make the final 4 or 5.
Iliana Papageorgiou, 20
Iliana is absolutely stunning, I find it odd that not all pageant fans think the same but one thing that is preventing Iliana from moving forward is the fact that she looks like she's about to prepare for New York Fashion Week not Miss Universe 2011. I'm just unsure whether this beauty will perform as a beauty queen or as a top class model - there's a huge difference between the two.
I fear Greece might miss the cut if she doesn't start to get hyped.
Aferdita Dreshaj, 25
To be honest back 10,000 years when pageant fans were already hyping her I just didn't take much notice. I just didn't understand why she was given so much attention, it was when her attention started to get divided by the newer faves that I started taking notice. Personally I still feel I haven't seen enough of Aferdita, I still feel my placement of her in my Top 8 is due to my image of her beauty not her actual beauty so I'm excited to see what she delivers at Miss Universe 2011.
Are you even doubting her not placing? Come on with Fadil at the helm there's no doubt she will place.
Kim Edri, 18
You were not expecting this were you. But I just find Kim to be so beautiful and sweet I don't care that she'll probably not be seen at Miss Universe amongst all those performers. I hope Kim will prove us all wrong and bring us an inner sexuality none of us imagined but here's me hoping.
I would be over the moon if Kim makes the cut but I doubt it.
Roseline Luo, 24
Ey, did you just read that wrong? Me putting Roseline out of the Top 4? No you've not read it wrong, she just missed out on my Top 4 (note the previous girls were not put in any specific order, I'm just saying if there was a top 5 I'll probably put Roseline there). Roseline will, I repeat will, put China back on the map. She is beautiful, elegant, tall, sexy and most importantly a performer however the problem is I'm not seeing anything else. Outside of strutting her stuff on the catwalk I haven't felt the same presence from her as I'd expect from a potential winner. I'll have to wait until Brazil to decide whether China will ascend my Top 4.
By god she will make the first cut but will she win? I highly doubt it. On the 60th Anniversary I don't expect China to take it especially with Trump at the reins, maybe if it was the 61st Anniversary, The Donald can't let China win it all you see.
Who have I missed? Albania? Angola? Costa Rica? Malaysia? Puerto Rico? Ukraine? USA? Venezuela? or someone else entirely?
From now on I will list my favourites in order.
Viviana Ortiz, 24
Of all people why have I placed Viviana amongst my Top 4? Because despite not being as naturally pretty as a lot of the girls in my Top 16 it's all about the aura. Like with Ana Rodriguez (Miss Texas USA 2011) I didn't think she was the prettiest at all but she had that "Je ne sais quoi" to push her to the top. Viviana is a performer, her innate confidence and presence has shone through in the pre-pageant stages now Viviana just needs to translate that to the actual pageant.
If you like patterns, since 2001 it has been:
Title - Non Placer - Non Placer - Placed - Placed
Title - None Placer - None Placer - Placed - Placed
So will Viviana be the next Title holder...
Olesya Stefanko, 22
Like many of the girls this year I initially took no notice of Olesya but when I began to review the competition I was just stunned by her photos. I hope she is as good at Brazil because if she is she'll be a huge threat to some of the favourites. Olesya doesn't get enough recognition in my opinion, I don't actually know why, but I think she could possibly outperform Anna Poslavska (Miss Universe 2010 3rd Runner Up).
Her placement within the Top 15/16 is nearly assured in my opinion but we'll see what happens on the night.
Deborah Priya Henry, 26
Normally when I love contestants it's from the first image I see of them, that has been the case of many of my Top 16 and in previous pageants as well. With Deborah that is exactly the case. Unlike many who have placed her lower in favour of other candidates I still have faith in Deborah because she's beautiful, elegant, exotic, sexy, intelligent and charming all wrapped into one with the added X-Factor. I hope she can emulate the success of the MW07 alumni in that Ada Aimee De La Cruz made it as 1st Runner up in 2009 and Yendi Philipps also came in at 1st Runner up in 2010. It could bode well for Deborah!
I think she'll place but I am unsure where she'll end.
Finally nobody beats the beauty that is...
Alyssa Campanella, 21
It is testament to her beauty that despite scores of girls being hyped and rehyped Alyssa still stands as most pageant fans No.1. She is undoubtedly the one to beat because she just has it all. If she doesn't make it into the Top 4 or 5 I think it would be the biggest shock in Miss Universe for a while. In actual fact if she doesn't win it would be a bigger shock than most. There are only a handful of girls I will not mind seeing take Alyssa's crown (atm) 4 in fact but if Alyssa does miss the crown it will not be because the other girls performed exceptionally well it'll be because Alyssa didn't perform to her best.
And just to give you some more choice here are 10 girls in my Bubbling Unders list.
Angola - Leila Lopes, 25
Czech Republic - Jitka Novackova, 19
Paraguay - Alba Riquelme, 20
Costa Rica - Johanna Solano, 18
Switzerland - Kerstin Cook, 22
Korea - Sora Jung, 20
Bahamas - Anastagia Pierre, 22
Venezuela - Vanessa Goncalves, 25
France - Laury Thilleman, 20
Brazil - Priscila Machado, 25
Yes Priscila made my bubbling unders. Yes she has a supposed porn past but if she's still competing I'll just wipe that history away until it's really necessary to decide who should win based on everything, including the girls background.
Anyway I can't wait until they arrive in Brazil. See you then.