The winner of Tuesday’s Stage 2 stretch of the USA Pro Challenge bike race, Mathias Frank, wasn’t the only person gazing on the trophy and feeling the rush of accomplishment.
It was also a standout moment for spectator Louis Bibeau, the Breckenridge Ski Resort patroller and snow maker who designed and created the trophy.
“It’s a really big event for Colorado and for Breckenridge, and I feel lucky they selected me to work on it,” Bibeau said. “I’m proud of my work.”
Bibeau is a self-taught sculptor who started welding in 2000. In his first year experimenting with metal fabrication, he submitted an art bike for Breckenridge’s Fourth of July festivities and won the people’s choice award. Over the years, Bibeau has continued to develop his craft, turning it from an avocation into a “hobby that makes me some money.”
“I know I enjoy it because time flies when I’m doing it. I can spend hours working on a project and stay completely focused,” he said.
Bibeau’s work can be seen throughout local homes and businesses. He specializes in creating wire rope handrails made from ski lift cable. But, he said, creating trophies is near and dear to his heart. “I like the satisfaction of having it on display somewhere, and knowing someone is constantly looking at it.”
The Breckenridge Stage 2 winner’s trophy is made of aluminum and steel, and it includes recycled ski lift parts.
Breck officials said they really wanted to incorporate the town’s mountain style and its passion for cycling into the trophy.
“With that in mind we let Lou do what Lou does,” said Breck communications director Kim Dykstra-DiLallo. “He is a creative guy — and he knows Breckenridge and Summit County.”
Bibeau has made trophies for several local events. He made the trophy presented to Shaun White in 2009, after winning the Copper Mountain Grand Prix.
Great athletes can accumulate a lot of trophies over time, Bibeau said, but he wants his trophies to stand out from the rest.
“When Shaun White looked at his trophy, he said, ‘Wow, I think I’m going to keep this one,’” Bibeau said.
Bibeau used plasma-cut signs to make the Pro Challenge trophy. The design is created on a computer and sent to a robotic metal cutting system. It’s a process of trial and error, Bibeau said.
“I drank a lot of coffee and had some great ideas coming to me, but it took a few weeks to work itself out,” he said.
In the end, both the artist and event organizer’s were happy with the product.
“The sweetest part, besides the enjoyment I got from working on this project, is the wonderful feedback I got after it was finished,” Bibeau said.
Dykstra-DiLallo said she thinks Bibeau succeeded in his goal to make a one-of-a-kind piece of work.
“What I really like about it is it isn’t your normal trophy,” she said. “He really captured the essence about what Breckenridge is and how to showcase that.”