Breckenridge International Snow Sculpture Championship returns for the 29th time |

Breckenridge International Snow Sculpture Championship returns for the 29th time

Summit Daily staff report

Blocks of snow sit in Breckenridge at last year's contest.
Carl Scofield / Courtesy Breckenridge Tourism Office
By the numbers
  • 4: artists per team
  • 12 feet: height of each blank block before sculpting begins
  • 250: teams invited to compete; only 16 are selected
  • 400 tons: total amount of snow to create blocks for 16 teams
  • 1990: First year of the Breckenridge International Snow Sculpture Championships
  • 50,000 pounds: weight of each block before sculpting begins

Sixteen teams from across the world are turning 20-ton blocks of snow into gravity-defying sculptures this week in Breckenridge.

The 29th Breckenridge International Snow Sculpture Championships began Monday with teams from China, Ecuador, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Mongolia and Turkey, along with American snow-carving squads from Breckenridge, Colorado and Wisconsin.

They each have 96 hours over five days to use their creativity, inspiration and hand tools to craft a masterpiece out of 12-foot blocks of packed snow. Sculpting ends at 9 a.m., Jan. 25, and that’s when the judging begins.

The awards ceremony will commence at 6 p.m., Jan. 25, in which the top three teams will take the podium for gold, silver and bronze medals while the picks for Artist’ Choice and People’s Choice awards will be announced.

The sculptures will be judged on technical skill, creativity, expressive impact and adherence to the original submission. To vote for the People’s Choice, spectators can text their favorite to 213-465-7985.

Following the awards ceremony, an acrobatic cirque show will be at 7 p.m., Jan. 25, followed by a grand illumination of the sculptures at 7:30.

Last year, Team Mongolia won gold with Secret, a sculpture that depicted a representation of a secret keeper’s chest. One of the two teams from Wisconsin competing last year went for an intricate, delicate depiction of a ballerina, head arched back, twirling a paper-thin ribbon and framed inside of a ring. The sculpture fell victim to gravity hours before judging, though, and didn’t get scored.

What masterpieces will arise this year? Will Wisconsin raise the stakes this year? Can the local team from Breckenridge outperform the international competition? Is this going be the year one of the American teams returns the title to the Old Glory? Only time will tell.

The temporary outdoor art gallery won’t last long. After the five build days, public viewing will run from Jan. 25-30. On the last day, the site will close at 7 pm. and the sculptures will come down.

All snow sculpture events are free. For more info, go to, scroll down to “Upcoming Events” and click on the “International Snow Sculpture Championships.”

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