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Criminologist fits beauty queen profile

Christa Rigozzi being crowned Miss Switzerland 2006 by previous winner Lauriane Gilliéron

(Keystone)

Christa Rigozzi, a blonde 23-year-old criminology and criminal law student from Ticino, has been crowned Miss Switzerland 2006.

Rigozzi, vital statistics 88-63-96, thus becomes the first Ticinese in ten years to be considered the most beautiful 19- to 24-year-old in the country.

Fittingly, the television viewers' decision on which of the 15 contestants was easiest on the eye was announced by the previous winner from the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland, Melanie Winiger.

Winiger, flipping impressively between Italian, French, German, Swiss-German and English, built up the tension in Geneva as 15 were whittled down to two: Rigozzi and pre-competition favourite Xenia Tchoumitcheva, 86-62-92, also from Ticino.

In the end, Tchoumitcheva had to make do with the Miss Photogenic award as Rigozzi received the tiara from last year's winner Lauriane Gilliéron.

In July Gilliéron, 86-60-91, came third in the Miss Universe competition in Los Angeles – the best result ever for a Swiss - crowning a good year for the first French speaker to win the Miss Switzerland title in 11 years.

Gilliéron is estimated to have earned almost SFr500,000 ($400,000) during her period in office – the largest amount ever.

Rigozzi, who revealed a diamond stud in her tooth and a Japanese tattoo down her back during the bikini round, won immediate sponsorship deals worth around SFr100,000 and can expect to earn at least SFr250,000 over the year.

Rigozzi, who cycles everyday to Bern University – not from Ticino – has been going out with 28-year-old Giovanni for six years, loves shoes and put her popularity among the audience down to her naturalness and spontaneity.

Media manufacture

The Swiss media's love affair with Mr and Miss Switzerland can often seem at odds with other European countries' attitudes towards such events.

"The Swiss obsession with these competitions does seem slightly anachronistic, but it is explained by the country's unique characteristics," said Fabrizio Sabelli, an anthropologist.

"Many Swiss people want to take part in the global adventure, but the Swiss government either will not or cannot get actively involved in the international scene and continues to cultivate a withdrawn attitude dictated by economic and strategic considerations."

In a country where international celebrities can be counted on one finger (Roger Federer), the Swiss media desperately try to manufacture celebrities from television presenters, folk musicians and beauty competitions.

Combining this with Switzerland's conservative attitude towards women – who only got the vote in 1971, and in one canton not until 1991 – Miss Switzerland's face is rarely absent from newspapers or billboards. Her male counterpart doesn't do badly either.

According to Sabelli, these new young, dynamic and glamorous "heroes" represent and shape a new image of the Swiss brand. "They are part of the country's marketing and put forward a 'Swiss made' in line with today's globalised society."

swissinfo

Key facts

Christa Rigozzi, from Monte Carasso in canton Ticino has been crowned Miss Switzerland 2006.

The 23-year-old studies criminology and criminal law at Bern University.

She is the first beauty from Italian-speaking Switzerland in 11 years to win the title.

Rigozzi is 1.79m and been going out with Giovanni for six years.

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