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Miss Teen of Colorado title goes to local

Daily Staff Report
Special to the DailyAnnika Sandberg, who will begin school at Eagle Valley High School this fall, won the Miss Teen of Colorado pageant in late July.
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EAGLE ” Last basketball season, Annika Sandberg suffered a season-ending ankle injury while playing for her eighth-grade basketball team at Gypsum Creek Middle School. Not one to sit around doing nothing, Annika started looking for something to occupy her time that didn’t require running on the ankle.

About the same time, Annika received information in the mail about upcoming pageants to be held in Denver and Fort Collins.

Annika is not the curl-your-hair, Barbie bouncy, flamboyant type, but the pageants had individual categories for academic achievement and community service that piqued her interest.

Although she admits to being “pretty girlie,” Annika is more the reserved and reflective type. She maintained a 4.0 grade point average throughout elementary and middle school and amassed hundreds of hours of community service with such organizations as the Youth Foundation and school fundraisers.

She then set out to raise the necessary financial backing from local businesses and solicit letters of recommendation from those familiar with her volunteer work.

As a result of her fundraising, Annika was able to participate in the National American Miss pageant in Denver on July 22-24, and the “Miss Teen of Colorado” pageant in Fort Collins on July 28-31.

The National American Miss pageant was an eye-opener for Annika who had never participated in any type of pageant before. About 121 girls from throughout Colorado were vying for Junior Teen of Colorado, ages 13-15. The competition was fierce, she said.

“I’ve never done anything like that before. They just expected you to know everything,” Annika said.

While Annika, not being a “bouncy Barbie,” did not place in the overall competition, she won first place in the academic achievement category and first place in the resume category. She was also the runner-up in the photogenic category ” a fortunate turn for a girl whose goal is to become print model.

Then, it was off to Fort Collins to compete in the Miss Teen of Colorado pageant. Annika now had a little more understanding about how pageants work and how the competitions run.

Unlike the National American Miss pageant that was for Junior Teens, or 13-15 year old girls, the Miss Teen of Colorado pageant was for girls 13-18 years of age.

However, the winner of the Miss Teen of Colorado pageant would be determined from six categories, or areas of development: scholastic record, service to school and community, personal development, general awareness, personality and poise, and personality projection.

When the awards were announced in the extra categories, Annika received yet another boost to her potential modeling career by winning both the formal portraiture for her head shot and the informal portraiture for her full-body photograph.

The competition then started zeroing in on the 10 merit finalists that would vie for the title. Then, the emcee started naming off the top 10. Nine had been called without Annika hearing her name. Finally, Annika was called as the 10th finalist.

Each contestant was then given the opportunity to give a brief response to a question by the emcee. Points were awarded for poise and personality projection.

When the field was narrowed down to five, Annika was still in the running.

Each of the remaining five was then called to the microphone one at a time and asked, “Whom do you admire most and why?” Annika’s answer?

“Mother Theresa. I think she was an amazing woman who has lived through a lot. She would have a lot of good advice and stories to tell,” Annika said.

Scores from the eight judges were then tabulated and the first three runner-ups were announced. Annika and an 18-year-old girl from the Front Range were the only remaining contestants.

Then it came: “And the new Miss Teen of Colorado is 14-year-old Annika Sandberg of Gypsum,” the emcee said.

“I was really surprised, especially since there were a lot of older girls there,” Annika said.

Along with the title, Annika receives a $1,000 cash scholarship and a $1,000 U.S. Savings Bond. A $250 award will go to Eagle Valley High School to be used in any way she wants. Annika will soon start her freshman year at Eagle Valley High School.

“I’m really excited for high school,” she said.

For the next two years, Annika will serve the state as the titleholder. She now has the opportunity to compete to be one of eight ladies nationwide to become the National Miss Teen of America.

There are some duties involved, also. She will help out at pageants in other states, as well as in Colorado. She is expected to serve as a role model for girls her age.

Annika would like to publicly thank her supporters from the Eagle County School District and the Youth Foundation; Sara Fisher for her expertise and time; and the following sponsors for their generous contributions; the town of Gypsum, Collett Enterprises, Ed Oyler, Mesa Market, Beveridge Real Estate, the Kuttin Korner and the Eagle River Dentistry.

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