Miss Universe: A Final Preview

The finale of the Miss Universe pageant will take place tomorrow night in the Bahamas and will be broadcast live on NBC beginning at 9:00 eastern. The preliminary round has already been webcast; you can see it here. It’s not bad. The contestants generally look great, but there isn’t a lot of action–basically just walking up and down the runway in swimsuits and evening gowns. It almost makes you miss the talent competition.
From a betting standpoint, the big story is the emergence of Miss Australia, Rachael Finch, as a prohibitive favorite. She currently is listed at under two to one, remarkable odds in a large and talented field. Miss Australia has the ambition that typifies pageant contestants:

In 2008, Finch entered the Miss Universe Australia competition in Townsville with 48 hours notice, winning the local heat but failing to make the top 10 in Melbourne.
The sultry look and sexy walk were already there but Finch was carrying too much “puppy fat” to make the grade.
Since that disappointment she has taken her regime to another level – eating for her blood type and taking on a personal trainer to get her body toning “spot on”.

I’m pretty sure I’d like the puppy fat version better, but it would be churlish to criticize:
I’ve already written about some of my favorite contestants here and here. The other betting favorites are Miss Dominican Republic and Miss Mexico, who are pictured here, and Miss USA, Kirsten Dalton, and Miss Netherlands, of whom the best photo I’ve seen is this informal shot when she arrived at the airport in the Bahamas:
gallery_photo1249677723usa_2.jpg Netherlands815.jpg
There are lots of excellent contestants this year; here are a few more whom I happen to like. Miss Curacao; Miss Finland–that is, amazingly enough, exactly how a lot of women from Finland look–Miss Japan; Japan is becoming a pageant powerhouse, along with China; Miss Poland–enough said–Miss Angola, another sudden pageant hotbed; Miss Costa Rica–I view this choice as a tribute to the subtlety of my taste in pageant contestants; Miss Ethiopia; and Miss Namibia:
One thing about beauty pageants: there are a lot of upsets. If the betting is coming down to Miss Australia vs. the field, I would definitely go with the field.
Finally, we bid farewell–again!–to the outgoing Miss Universe, the politically incorrect Dayana Mendoza, a former Miss Venezuela whose frosty relations with Hugo Chavez are no secret and who has been a model for what a beauty queen should be:
PAUL asks: John, are you sure these aren’t the kid sisters of the Miss Universe contestants?