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International Snow Sculpture Championships – Breckenridge

The 2012 Budweiser International Snow Sculpture Championships are well under way in Breckenridge, and it’s the 22ndyear that 15 teams from around the world are competing right in our backyard! For many years, it was a relatively small event, catering locally to Breckenridge and then Colorado as a whole. However, in 1991 we hosted the first worldwide championships and it has become a very popular event. This year, teams are competing from Australia, Canada, China, Finland, Germany, Greece, Latvia, Estonia, Mexico, Switzerland and the United States, which is a quite a showing if you think about it. These teams are limited to 5 people each, and they are only allowed to use hand tools — sounds daunting to someone like myself who had never “carved” anything more than a snowball.  The first four days of the championships were designated as “Technical Week” — volunteers and machinery combined to form immense blocks (as I learned at Trivia at Rita’s on Main Street last week, they can be 20+ tons!) of snow and ice that were spread out around the Blue River Plaza and the Riverwalk Center in the heart of Breckenridge. Sculpting Week began on January 24th with a shotgun start and, after letting the expert sculptors get a good start on their sculptures, I decided to check out the progress on the 26th. Even though the teams are less than 48 hours into their work, I was impressed with what I saw. It ended up being a guessing game for me, but I think saw a beach scene, a partial statue that resembled Buddha, and some sort of Viking head — like I said, a little vague, but they do have two more days of carving ahead of them! 

 I couldn’t help but think it must be a nerve-wracking task to try and create a work of art from a block of ice. They must have a true vision of what they’re making before even one snow crystal is removed from the block, much like Michelangelo’s Renaissance masterpiece, David, was carved into a block of stone in the early 1500s. Well, maybe not that intense, but you get the point. Either way, the crowd seemed to share my sentiments exactly as everyone wandered around, seemingly lost, and stared at the works in progress. A group of tiny, early-elementary-school children were the most excited and impressed, while my sculpture viewing partner, Nugget (a coworker’s black lab), seemed mostly confused about what was going on. In any event, the sculpting ends on January 28th, and that will be followed by a judging and awards on January 29th around3:30 p.m. Following the awards — and weather permitting — there will be a week-long viewing period from January 29 through February 5. Hopefully the weather will stay cold so the statues can stand as long as possible! ***Update on the Championships! They have released the winners, and they are:

1st Place - Canada Quebec - Great Expectations

2nd Place - Germany - Dancing Screens

 3rd Place - Team Baltic (Latvia/Estonia) - Discover the Edge of the World