Breckenridge sits huddled in a cozy valley that is surrounded by Colorado’s majestic Rocky Mountains. Millions of people from across the globe travel to this beautiful tourist destination every year. Breckenridge is conveniently located an hour and a half from Denver traveling west bound on I 70. Breckenridge is one of the largest historical districts in Colorado. The approximately 4500 plus fulltime residents according to the 2010 census, reside in an area 7 miles long and 2 miles wide and enjoy 41 acres of town owned parks.
Breckenridge features a wide variety of activities, cultures and attractions. In Breckenridge’s repertoire of hosted events, one of the most popular activities that brings people here from worldwide is the International Snow Sculpture Championships (ISSC). In this particular year, the ISSC is celebrating an important milestone and that is its 25 year anniversary.
The snow sculpting event begins with giant blocks of ice that measures 10 feet wide, 10 feet long and 12 feet high. These giant pillars of ice weigh approximately 20 tons and takes over Breckenridge’s Riverwalk Center parking lot. As soon as the blocks are packed and set, they are ready for the sculptors to demonstrate their skills and craftsmanship.
The artists have a total of 65 hours to transform these giant blocks of ice to amazing crystal like figurines. They use a variety of hand tools that includes a vegetable peeler, chicken wire, small saws and other varieties of utensils. Power tools are strictly prohibited.
There are a total of 16 teams competing this year. They are structured with 3 team members and a captain. Each team member has a specific duty skill that he or she is responsible for. It is always about team work. The team that works together the best takes home the title. One of the many sculptures that caught lots of attention was from Team France.
Their sculpture was called “L’amour Toujours”. Simple translated means “Love forever, Love never ends”. Team France put forth some incredible detail in the young adult’s embroidered shawl. The consistency in the carved hearts is amazing. You could count every heart and wrinkle in the sweater. Think how your hands would shake in such a cold climate while carving into this block of ice. You can look at the sculpture and appreciate the love and sincerity she is showing the young child. Bringing out and projecting the realization of feelings is a must for having any chance to take home first place.
Team Lithuania and their sculpture, “The Wind of Eternal Change” poses the clouds, the rain and ocean on 3 leaning pillars. All three physical states are elements of water and always in constant change. Their meaning relates to life in itself and how it arrived from water. How life had to survive as it did on Noah’s Ark. Where will the wind of constant change lead the ark? Where will humanity end up? What challenges on distant horizons await? Is this what Team Lithuania had in mind?
Team Ukraine’s “Doves of Peace” (pictured below left) has a distinctive message for the world to see. The image of The Doves nestling together symbolizes peace. The Ukrainian people would love nothing more than to experience a peaceful tranquility in their war-ridden homeland. The curved crystal white Doves are a worldly icon that projects a feeling of calming serenity. The detail in this adoring sculpture’s feathered heads to its claws clenching the bark covered branch represents an artistic meaning from a heart felt feeling.
Team China’s “Winter Fishing” (pictured below right) is an extraordinary piece of work. The Heze Nationality is a Chinese Minority residing in Northeast China. They maintain their fishing heritage even in the winter months. They keep their tradition alive in this fabulous sculpture that illustrates a fish leaping out of the icy waters. The bearded Santa like figure is seemingly trying to net the aquatic creature. The basket of fish behind him represents the day’s rewards. The net, the fish, the splashing water and the fisherman ties the whole theme together. The detail in the fish’s scales took a steady hand and lots of patience.
Team USA named their entry “The Sculptor”. As shown below, it depicts an artist molding the snow flake into a work of art. The sculpture honors the 25 years that Breckenridge has hosted the International Snow Sculpting Competition. It is a tribute to all the sculptors who have made the event so incredible year after year. This sheer defined piece of artistry is a reflection of all the gifted artists who put their normal jobs aside so they can create magnificent art from such a tender element we call snow. The mind blowing, gravity defying and emotional evoking art excites the eyes and stimulates the imagination for thousands of spectators.
There are no cash prizes. The artists compete only for the glory of having the opportunity to share their god given talents. However, there are medallions, trophies and ribbons that are handed out for first, second and third place winners. Awards are also presented to the winners of the People’s Choice, Kid’s Choice and Artist’s Choice. In a town that averages over 300 inches of fresh powdered snow each year, it’s only natural that Breckenridge’s parking lot in Riverwalk Center will again be transformed into an outdoor art gallery. Grab your calendar and join us next January to see the artistic aspirations of these incredible sculptors.