A Puzzling News Blackout

This year’s Miss World contest is underway in Johannesburg, South Africa. The pageant has been a bit star-crossed, as it was originally planned for Kiev but moved to Johannesburg at more or less the last minute, perhaps because of the conflict in Georgia. Maybe that explains why it has so far gotten so little publicity, even though one of its most popular events took place on Saturday.

For those who haven’t followed the Miss World competition in recent years, the contestants gather in the host city for several weeks before the finale and engage in a series of preliminary contests: Miss Beach Beauty, Miss Sport, Miss Top Model and Miss Beauty With a Purpose. The winner of each of these mini-competitions gets a “fast track” ticket to the final. The pageant also has a “Miss People’s Choice” award, which you can participate in by voting on the Miss World web site. I haven’t figured out yet how that relates to the final.

Anyway, the Miss Beach Beauty competition took place on Saturday. In the past, the Miss Beach Beauty title has been a big deal, but this year you can’t even find a record of it on Yahoo News Photos. Since beauty pageants exist mainly to generate publicity, I can’t explain this sudden reticence. But here are the results, for those who have been wondering.

Miss Mexico won first place. No surprise there; Mexico is a fast-rising power in the world of pageantry and this year’s title-holder, Espinoza Marroquin Anagabriela, is a strong contender for Miss World; click to enlarge:

Mexico661.jpg

Miss Russia was third, and hometown favorite Miss South Africa placed second:

MissRussia172.jpg SouthAfrica002.jpg

I haven’t had time yet to figure out who the current betting favorites are. The finale isn’t until December 13, so much can happen. When I first scanned the contestants I thought that Miss Dominican Republic was a prohibitive favorite:

DominicanRepublic771.jpg

But she didn’t make the 30-contestant cutoff for Miss Beach Beauty, for some reason, which means she faces an uphill struggle.

Things are off to a bit of a ragged start, but there is a considerable distance to go before the finale, so hopefully by the time Miss Sport is selected–also a popular contest in past years–the PR machine will have gotten warmed up.

UPDATE: The Sun covers the beach event, with photos.

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