BRECKENRIDGE – Kids and adults crowded the icy path around the 14 giant snow sculptures in Breckenridge on Saturday. Bundled in winter gear, spectators admired the art created by teams from across the globe.
At a time when Fort Collins has lots of ice, Breckenridge held the 17th annual Budweiser Select International Snow Sculpting Championship Jan. 23-28.
The teams came from seven different states and six countries, including the United States.
All had previously won either a state or regional championship before attending this international affair.
Ever year, Breckenridge hosts about 30,000 guests over the course of two weeks. They come from all over Colorado and America, as well as other countries.
Kristen Petitt, Breckenridge resort chamber spokesperson, said the event helps tourism during this time of year.
“The artists are so passionate about (snow sculpting) and the process is just as beautiful as the final product,” she said. “People are amazed that they spend so much time and energy on a piece of art that will be gone in two weeks.”
Even the locals get excited about this annual event.
Nancy DiRienzo has attended the event for the past eight years with her husband, Gary. This year’s pieces, she said, were some of best and most detailed she had ever seen.
“This event is a great opportunity for people to see a medium like this being done when most people wouldn’t think it could be done,” Nancy said.
These masterpieces took 65 hours to create and started as nothing more than 12- foot high, 20-ton blocks of man-made snow.
Using only their hands and permitted hand tools, the four-person teams diligently carved away at the cold material.
This year, Team Oregon took home the first place medal with their piece “They Call Him Old Man Winter.”
Team Minnesota was awarded second place for “Cool Jazz” and Team Canada came in third for “Almost There.”
Switzerland received an honorable mention for its piece titled “Rock ‘n’ Roll.”
Tears filled Roger Butterfield’s eyes and his voice quivered as he gave his team’s acceptance speech.
“The feeling I’ve gotten from this experience is an overall wonderful sense of joy because of the strength of our team and having come out on top – it’s an amazing thing,” said Butterfield, 53, captain of Team Oregon.
Butterfield said that snow scultping is a sport and requires endurance, strategy and creativity. It gives people the opportunity to perform at the highest level artistically and creatively without the time and money restraints that other mediums have.
The team is comprised of four people – Butterfield, Kevin Christman, Gabriel Lipper, and Toby Linwood – who are all professional artists of different mediums.
Butterfield said the goal of his team is to compete and win gold at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
The snow sculptures will be on display until Feb. 4 next to the Riverwalk Center in the center of town.
Staff writer Stephanie Gerlach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What the sculptures are judged on (criteria):
-technical and artistic composition
-adherence to the original idea