Breckenridge welcomes snow artists
January 21, 2017
Blocks packed with 25 tons of snow are all set up in and around the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge, ready to be carved at the 27th annual International Snow Sculpture Championships.
Visit town this week to see the sculptors in action, beginning on Tuesday with the official cannon start at 11 a.m. Artists will work live each day, and then all through the night on Friday until Saturday at 9 a.m. The awards ceremony will be held on Saturday at 2 p.m., and then viewing week will continue through Sunday, Feb. 5, weather permitting. The event is free and open for the public to enjoy.
"This outdoor sculpture gallery is erected in downtown Breckenridge within a matter of days," said Rachel Zerowin with the Breckenridge Tourism Office. "And spectators can see the process as it's happening."
Check out the Thaw Lounge, located inside the Riverwalk Center, for some snow sculpture history and a chance to warm up from the outside chill.
The uniqueness of the medium of snow is very special, creating an impermanence as the sculptures are chiseled into beautiful forms. Part of the magic is that the sculptures are not meant to last forever, so they must be enjoyed in the moment.
Next week, artists like Tom Day, Tim West, Margo Jerfovitz and captain Keith Martin of Team Breckenridge will carve for 65 hours across five days. On Friday night when they work through Saturday morning, the extra cold nighttime temperatures will really help them refine the details in their pieces. No power tools are allowed, so it's all about the intricacies.
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Artists submit a design for approval in September. Day and company made a clay model of their sculpture — a St. Bernard honoring ski patrol. The model was one inch to one foot in scale. So a 14-foot tall sculpture starts as a 14-inch tall version in clay.
This is Day's 22nd year participating in this competition. He said, on a phone interview while still in France at another snow sculpting competition, the art and the camaraderie make the Breck event one of the top five of its kind in the world.
Winners of the competition don't get a bag of cash or an oversized check, but a commemorative token of achievement — each year has a different award. Doing well in the competition is of course a plus, but the event as a whole is really what stands out.
Kids can try their hands at snow carving as well this year. On Saturday, the Main Street Station Snow Sculpture begins at 11 a.m. and is open to children ages 9 and up.
This year's theme will focus on animals. Young participants will use the same type of snow that the main competitors use, and will learn the basics of snow sculpting with instruction led by Mauricio Meneses, one of Breckenridge's own artists.
Tools including small buckets, gardening tools, ice scrapers and glove covers, as well as multiple blocks of snow at approximately 3 cubic feet each will be provided. Space is limited and preregistration is recommended at RockyMtnEvents.com.
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