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Top Model: Nicole is making a habit of defying the odds

Plenty of America's Next Top Model episodes this cycle seems designed to slow the momentum of Louisville's Nicole Fox. But somehow, she keeps winding up near the top of the photogenic heap, and last night was no exception. Within the first few minutes, viewers were treated with another dose of dissing about Nicole's bizarro personality, this time from Albino sprite Erin. Then came the first challenge, in which the remaining contestants visited The Insider set and got tips from host Lara Spencer about interviewing. During Nicole's first try, the producers triggered cricket sounds to fill an awkward pause, which is never a good sign -- and a quiz session with 90210's Jessica Lowndes didn't go much better. Desperate to keep the banter going, Nicole asked Lowndes if she had any kids, causing the twenty-year-old starlet to practically snort with laughter.

As if that wasn't bad enough, the evening's final test was a Cover Girl commercial shoot. Given Nicole's confession that she generally feels "dorky and awkward," she should have been doomed. But somehow, she came across as smooth and controlled, placing second in evaluations co-judged by Westword attention-whore standout Kim Kardashian -- and she should have won, given how often first-placer Jennifer bobbled her head back and forth. Bonus: While bland Rae eventually got the boot, Erin received karmic payback, blubbering through the commercial and suffering more eye leakage when standing in Tyra Banks' withering gaze on the way to the bottom two.

And the Nicole crazy train rolls on.

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