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2013 Miss America photos: North Dakota, Washington win third and final night of prelims ahead of Saturday’s pageant


Tom Donoghue/

Miss North Dakota Rosie Sauvageau and Miss Washington Mandy Schendel win the third and final night of preliminaries for talent and lifestyle and fitness, respectively, in the 2013 Miss America Pageant at PH Live in Planet Hollywood on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013.

2013 Miss America: Third Preliminaries

The third and final night of preliminaries in the 2013 Miss America Pageant at PH Live in Planet Hollywood on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013. Launch slideshow »
Click to enlarge photo

Michele Strom, star of WE's "Obsessed With the Dress."

2013 Miss America Night 3

2013 Miss America Pageant: Miss North Dakota and Miss Washington

Miss North Dakota Rosie Sauvageau and Miss Washington Mandy Schendel win the third and final night of preliminaries for talent and lifestyle and fitness, respectively, in the 2013 Miss America Pageant at PH Live in Planet Hollywood on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013. Launch slideshow »

Miss District of Columbia Allyn Rose

Miss Montana Alexis Wiseman

Miss Iowa Mariah Cary

Click to enlarge photo

Quality of Life Award winners Miss Tennessee Chandler Lawson, Miss Alabama Anna Laura Bryan and Miss Maryland Joanna Guy at the 2013 Miss America Pageant at Planet Hollywood on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013.

Coverage of Saturday’s 2013 Miss America Pageant is more intense than ever as the final hours tick down to the crowning of the 2013 winner. There’s a massive onslaught of national media that are not only promoting the event -- hosted on ABC by Chris Harrison of “The Bachelor” and Brooke Burke-Charvet of “Dancing With the Stars” -- but also Las Vegas.

At Thursday night’s third and final preliminary competition, the scholarship winners were Miss North Dakota Rosie Sauvageau and Miss Washington Mandy Schendel. Rosie, 24, won her talent category with a piano and vocal rendition of Bob Dylan’s “To Make You Feel My Love,” and Mandy, 22, modeled a white strapless Catalina swimsuit for her victory in lifestyle and fitness.

It was a night of courage for Miss Puerto Rico Kiaraliz Medina, 19, who was rushed to a hospital 24 hours earlier with a foot-and-ankle injury sustained when she performed a flamenco dance in her talent challenge. She returned in time to hobble onstage last night with crutches. Our thanks to contributing photographer Tom Donoghue for his Night 3 photo galleries.

It also was a night of sad news that 2011 Miss America Teresa Scanlan, who won her title here at age 17, has been felled with dengue fever and won’t be here for Saturday’s onstage parade of Miss Americas. She picked up the mosquito-borne virus while working at an orphanage in Haiti over Christmas, and doctors ordered her not to travel here.

This year’s contestants are the most stunning and glamorous since the pageant moved here in 2007, and the evening gowns and parade dresses are far more dazzling, glittering and sexier than ever. I asked Michele Strom, star of WE’s “Obsessed With the Dress,” what it takes to compete.

“Getting pageant ready takes months of preparation, sometime years, to get the opportunity to compete at a national pageant. In addition to training in the gym and knowing nutrition, they have to be passionate about their charity platform,” Michele told me. “When it comes to wardrobe, they need to develop an image or style. They have be sure all wardrobe selections fit properly and accentuate their best assets. That’s best by having gowns custom made to fit perfectly. There’s a lot of coaching on speaking skills, stage presence and interview techniques.

“Without the lead-up preparations, they could have a possible meltdown in the chaotic environment of getting ready on the big day. Many contestants avoid food for months leading up to the contest, but they have to eat to maintain energy levels and simple sugars an hour before stage time to plump up the muscles. I always tell them eight counts of breathing to stay calm and lower heart rate and blood pressure to be poised and confident.

“Most important of all, though, on pageant day is to remember double-stick tape and butt glue to avoid bumps and lumps!”

The media blitz is the largest it’s been in the past six years Miss America has been here. It kicked off this morning with a special “Good Morning America” segment with judge Sam Champion and anchor Lara Spencer, a judge last year, showing behind-the-scenes of this week’s competitions. Tonight, Diane Sawyer has a surprise “Person of the Week” segment about the pageant on “ABC World News,” and Time is featuring coverage for the first time since 2004.

There’s around-the-clock coverage online at Pageant Talk Radio and the Living Well network, and additional segments are featured on “Extra,” “Inside Edition” and “The Insider” tonight. Lara’s one-hour “20/20: Pageant Confidential” airs before Saturday’s two-hour telecast.

Much attention is focused on three candidates. Miss District of Columbia Allyn Rose is in a fight for her life battling cancer that has claimed the life of her mom, an aunt and a grandmother. Miss Montana Alexis Wiseman, 18, is not only the youngest contestant this year, but she also is the first in the pageant’s 92-year history to have autism. The high school graduate credits her family for helping her overcome a speech impediment and intense shyness. And Miss Iowa Mariah Cary has battled Tourette syndrome.

There’s are three of the challenges this year’s contestants have faced, and all have made compelling stories for television, radio, magazines and newspapers across Canada and as far away as Europe.

The three scholarship winners in the Miss America Quality of Life Awards were announced Thursday: Miss Alabama Anna Laura Bryan won $6,000 for her platform championing the right of people with autism to be accompanied by a pet, which became law in the Yellowhammer State; Miss Maryland Joanna Guy won $4,000 for her work as an advocate and fundraiser for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals; and Miss Tennessee Chandler Lawson won $2,000 for her “5 Loaves 4 Kids” backpack program feeding kids in her hometown -- 45,000 backpacks for 300 children a week over five years.

Who’ll make the Final Five? Keep your eyes on Miss South Carolina Ali Rogers and Miss Alabama, who could be the last two standing before the crowning. The seven judges -- Sam, Bradley Bayou, Cheryl Burke, Mary Hart, Daymond John, McKayla Maroney and 2009 Miss America Katie Stam Irk -- are guests at Stoney’s Rockin’ Country in Town Square for an after-party. Officials and the winner have their after-party at Planet Hollywood.

We’ll have interviews and photos with co-hosts Chris and Brooke here Saturday before we start our live blog at 6 p.m. PT and tweets, plus, TV director Tony Eaton’s pageant preview.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

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