I spent this past weekend in Breckenridge, Colorado, where coincidentally, the 2009 Budweiser International Snow Sculpture Championships took place. Although I didn’t intend on an afternoon spent looking and studying 20-ton snow blocks, the sculptures were graceful and a creative feat that was difficult to leave.
For the 19th year Breckenridge Ski Resort made the snow, and the Town of Breckenridge Public Works Department transported it to the site at Riverwalk Center, the heart of the mountain town. The snow was manmade in order to retain consistency throughout the block. When the dump trucks dropped off the snow, a large snow blower, volunteers and workers compressed the snow into blocks. Despite that the crew used a snow blower, these works qualify as eco-sculptures as the medium had no impact on the earth and the tools required no power.
The teams were only allowed hand tools such as scrapers, shovels and handsaws, and 65 hours to carve their 3-d designs. With these basic guidelines, it was incredible to see how each team personalized the 10 feet wide, 10 feet long and 12 feet high blocks. A few teams chose a modern and contemporary design that addressed themes of space and balance, while others catered their whimsical masterpieces to the viewers’ imaginations. The range of style, detailed work and subject matter was so vast that every viewer could connect to a piece.
I was captivated by these delicate sculptures; however, as I was walking from one piece to the next, I was amazed at how each artist envisioned and executed the subject matter in a previously untouched block of manmade snow. I was intrigued by Team China’s “The March of Spring” as it defied gravity with large, yet delicate ribbon like loops. Throughout the sculpting period, there was steady snowfall, which made lines soft and muddied detail work. However, the dancing fairies from Team China retained its shape and displayed beautiful craftsmanship.
From nine countries, 16 teams were invited to participate. The four artists teams were selected based on their extensive portfolios and applications. The range of designs paralleled the diversity of the teams. Spanning the globe the selected teams were: Team Bulgaria, Team Canada-Ontario, Team Canada-Yukon, Team Canada-United States, Team China, Team Germany, Team Mexico, Team Netherlands, Team Spain, Team Switzerland, Team Untied States-Alaska, Team United States- Breckenridge, Colorado, Team United States-Loveland, Colorado, Team Vermont and Team Wyoming.
The winners were announced on Sunday afternoon. Team Canada-Yukon took first place with their “Family Reunion;” “The March of Spring” from Team China came in second and “Trunks Optional” by Team Wyoming took third place. The planning of the 2010 International Snow Sculpture Championships is well on its way.