International snow sculpture event begins Tuesday |

International snow sculpture event begins Tuesday

Summit Daily file photo

BRECKENRIDGE For the 17th year, 14 teams from around the globe gather to compete in the Budweiser Select International Snow Sculpture Championships at the Breckenridge Riverwalk Center.Competitors include teams from Canada, Czech Republic, Mexico, Switzerland, Turkey and nine teams from in United States, including Breckenridge, Alaska, Colorado (Cañon City), Idaho, Minnesota, New York, Oregon and two teams from Wisconsin. The sculptors will sculpt Tuesday through Saturday before judging on Saturday.Each four-person teams is assigned a 12-foot-tall, 20-ton block of machine-made snow. These teams work within a five-day period to create sensational sculptures – sometimes enormous pieces of whimsy and sometimes with powerful political or social commentary.

The finished pieces are achieved after a total of 65 hours of work without the use of power tools, internal support structures or colorants.When the sculptures are finished, a panel of artists and patrons of the arts serve as judges and will present awards to the first, second and third place sculptures. Awards are also given for People’s Choice, Kids’ Choice and Artists’ Choice. There are no cash prizes; the artists instead revel in the reward of hard work, forged friendships, freedom of artistic expression and the satisfaction of long hours of preparation that lead to the event. Sculptures will remain on display in Breckenridge until Feb. 4, weather permitting. Visit for more information.

Snow Facts• The Breckenridge Ski Resort makes the snow and the Town of Breckenridge Public Works Department loads it into dump trucks and takes it to the event site. The special blend of snow that the ski area creates with a higher water content is known to be some of the best snow in the world to sculpt with. • The Town of Breckenridge Public Works Department takes great pride in forming the blocks of snow. Front-end loaders take the snow from the dump trucks to the event site. The snow is blown into the blocks by a huge snow blower. After a couple loads, about four to six people, snow stompers, climb into the blocks and stomp the snow to pack it into the blocks. The people then climb out of the block and another layer gets blown in and the people get back into the block and stomp the snow.

• More than 1,000 volunteer hours are needed over the course of three weeks in January to pull off the event. Snow carving in Breckenridge began as a local pastime during the early days of Ullr Fest in the late ’60s.

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