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Date Posted: 00:12:30 01/03/08 Thu
Pair hope to take on the universe
By Roger Knox - Vernon Morning Star - January 02, 2008
Hoping to represent their country at the Miss Universe pageant in Vietnam in July, Vernon’s Courtney Liefke (left) and Maria Woodward are both competing at the Miss Universe Canada competition in Toronto in March.
tyler olsen/Morning Star
One was approached by a couple of women who asked if she had ever contemplated entering the Miss Universe Canada pageant.
The other was doing research on Miss Universe Canada and decided to enter the competition online.
Now, Vernon’s Courtney Liefke and Maria Woodward have been selected as finalists for the title of Miss Universe Canada, and both will compete in the pageant in Toronto in March.
“I was working at the Orchard Park Mall in Kelowna when a couple of lady customers approached me and asked if I had ever considered running for Miss Universe Canada,” said Liefke, 20, a 5-foot-8, blond, green-eyed teller at Scotiabank in Vernon. “I kind of knew a bit about it before, through some acquaintances from Kamloops who had run. I applied in June and, by the end of June, I was heading to Vancouver to begin the interview process.”
After she nailed the interview, Liefke began travelling back and forth to Vancouver in the summer and fall to work with pageant coach Fabrizio, who, according to Liefke, “has the best walk you’ve ever seen.”
“His runway walk is better than any of the girls,” laughed Liefke, a participant in the 2005 Queen Silver Star excellence program.
Liefke proved to be a quick study in the world of pageants, as she was selected, along with five other young women, by the Miss Universe Canada’s national director to attend a pageant in China earlier this month.
“We went to Hong Kong, Taiwan, Shanghai and did shows in Guangzhou and Tianjin,” said Liefke of her whirlwind trip. “The main show was in Shanghai, which featured bikini and evening gown competitions, plus we had to wear a traditional Chinese costume.
“I didn’t place in the top-five (out of 43 entrants from all over the world), but it was an amazing experience. Pageant shows are huge over there. We would get off a bus and be swarmed by hundreds of people wanting to take our pictures.”
Between now and the Miss Universe Canada pageant in March, Liefke will continue her work at the bank and travelling to Vancouver once a month to work with her coaches. She’s worn high heels all her life, so she’s very comfortable with that portion of the program, and gives credit to her background with Toastmasters for helping with the public speaking aspect of the program.
“I think if there’s one area I’d like to work on, it’s toning up,” said Liefke, who vows to hit the gym a lot between now and March.
Unlike Liefke, walking around in stilettos is something relatively new to Woodward, who grew up in Campbell River.
“I’m used to wearing cowboy boots from my days of riding western,” laughed Woodward, 20, a former barrel racer. “I’ve been practising walking up and down stairs in heels without falling.”
Woodward’s path to Toronto is similar to Liefke’s.
She was researching Miss Canada for a class when the Miss Universe Canada website came up during her online search. After reading about the pageant, and with some prompting from her family, Woodward filled out the online application, and sent it in last March.
“In June, I was contacted by the Vancouver branch of the Calgary-based Pattie Falconer Agency, and they asked me to come down for an interview,” said Woodward, a 5-foot-7, brown-eyed, brown-haired third-year arts student at UBC Okanagan. “I spent all summer going back and forth working out at the agency.”
Woodward, who came to Vernon for school, and to live with a relative who had room for her quarterhorse, Desi, is confident in her public speaking, and plans to work between now and March on her runway walk.
She is getting support and encouragement from her family, though she admits her father is a bit nervous.
“They’re super proud of me, but dad’s a little worried about me,” laughed Woodward, who has never been east of Alberta in her life.
Both women plan on doing the best they can in Toronto, where the event will feature evening gown, bathing suit and public speaking, with the hope of winning the title and advancing to the Miss Universe competition in July in Vietnam.
Even if they don’t make it through the Canadian finals, both are grateful to have had the opportunity to compete.
“I am super excited to have been selected for the final, and I have already learned so much,” said Woodward. “I’ve met so many new people, it’s just a win-win situation.”
“There are so many opportunities this competition brings,” added Liefke, who is getting tons of support from her family, friends and co-workers.
Both women are seeking financial help since they have to come up with $2,500 for the Canadian final.
If you’d like to help, you can reach Liefke at c_liefke@hotmail. com, and Woodward at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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