snow sculpture

Artists have five days to complete their work. Pam LeBlanc photo

Huge frozen works of art are rising from blocks of snow in downtown Breckenridge, Colorado.

I wandered to the Riverwalk Center after dinner last night to take in some of the sculptures-in-progress. About a dozen teams are competing in this year’s International Snow Sculpture Competition, which first took place here in 1990.

The Breckenridge Ski Resort makes the snow used for the contest at the mountain and delivers it to the competition site, a few blocks off Main Street in downtown Breckenridge. There, the snow is loaded into 10 by 10 by 12-foot frames and stomped down three separate times to compact it enough that the sculptors can use it.

snow sculpture

A team works on their entry late Tuesday night. Pam LeBlanc photo

Each sculpture is based on a small model submitted by the snow sculpting team.

I watched as three men used blunt-edged paddles to hack their 25-ton block of snow into the crude shape of a figure sitting at a piano. They pointed to a small model of a bear playing a piano, which they dubbed “Bearthoven.”

Each team has five days to finish their work. They can only use hand tools; power tools are not allowed.

Read more: Ten – make that eleven – reasons to love Beaver Creek

Past sculptures have included swimmers, a skull, a hippo, musicians and more.

This year’s competitors include teams from Ecuador, Germany, Mexico, and the United States.

snow sculpture

Sculptures remain on display until Feb. 2, 2022. Pam LeBlanc photo

Gold, silver, and bronze awards are named, along with artists choice and people’s choice. In 2020, the last year the competition took place, Team Mexico took home the gold for the second year in a row. Team Great Britain won silver and Team India won Artists Choice.

Carving ends Jan. 28, and the finished pieces will remain on display until 7 p.m. Feb. 2 at Riverwalk Center, 150 West Adams in Breckenridge. Viewing is best after dark, when the sculptures are illuminated by colored lights. Admission is free, but reservations are required if you plan to go on Saturday, Jan. 29. For more information go here.






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