EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

March 10, 2009

Danville sisters at home in pageants, woodsmen contests

Sisters showcase talent dancing and swinging axes

Some might see the pastimes as complete opposites.

But two Danville sisters relish both their pageants and their woodsmen competitions. Each of them feels at ease holding a microphone or an ax, wearing fingernail polish or blue jeans.

At practice last week, University of New Hampshire woodsmen team members Christiann Unger, 21, and Arielle Unger, 18, ripped a two-handled cross-cut saw through a log in subfreezing temperatures, their blond hair tossing and the sawdust flying.

The saw teeth sounded like deep inhales and exhales as it shot back and forth outside the Thompson School sawmill in Durham.

Teammates say the Unger girls are well suited for their dual interests.

"It fits their character," teammate Eric Ratlof said. "They are both really outgoing and outdoorsy."

Teammate Katie Noyes recalled partnering with Arielle in the vertical chop event at the UNH fall meet in November.

Noyes said both she and Arielle were nervous before they started whacking away at the log, one on each side, trying to chop it in half ahead of other teams.

"She was really focused and had people cheering her on," Noyes said.

Christiann, a graduate of Central Catholic High School in Lawrence, Mass., has been competing in pageants since she was 17, winning the Miss Gate City crown in Nashua and competing in the Miss New Hampshire pageant in 2008.

Arielle, who also attended Central Catholic but graduated last year from Timberlane Regional High School, has been competing in pageants since she was 17.

Arielle hasn't won a crown yet, but won the best smile and most congenial at the Kingston/Seacoast Pageant last year.

The sisters are jacks of all trades.

Both of them dance. Christiann tap dances. Arielle has been performing since she was 3 years old. At pageant talent competitions, she does a jazz dance.

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