Artists have waited two years to compete at the annual International Snow Sculpture Championships in Breckenridge. The event’s return came this week with nine teams sculpting giant blocks of snow since Monday, Jan. 24, using only hand tools like saws and peelers to create ephemeral pieces.
As the name implies, people travel from around the world to take part. This year, there are teams from Germany, Ecuador, Mexico, and New York, in addition to three from Wisconsin and two from Colorado — including a home team from Breckenridge. Team Breckenridge’s Keith Martin is also overseeing a noncompetition, sponsored block sculptured in honor of local historic figure Barney Ford, whose 200th birthday was in January.
The sport attracts carvers of all ages. Summit High School students Eli Krawczuk-Cochrane and Giancarlo Martinez received second place at the Colorado Snow Sculpting Championship earlier this month.
There are no cash prizes for the International Snow Sculpture Championships. Instead, the top three teams each receive a medallion, trophy, and ribbon. Nevertheless, it’s been a long wait for Team Mexico to see if they can win gold for the third year in a row.
“Hopefully, when we retire from this, people will have a hard time winning three in a row,” team member Jessie Armand said about raising the bar for the team from two consecutive wins to three. Team Canada has been the only one to win three in a row from 2002 to 2004.
The group, which regularly comprises Armand and Carlos Miguel Ramirez Pereyra, won in 2020 for the statue Greed and in 2019 for Cenote Guardian. Joining them this year are Israel Magaña Rodriguez and Christopher Power.
While Ramirez is technically the team captain this year, he and Armand don’t like to think in hierarchical terms. Rather, they see it as a transcontinental partnership, with Armand from Canada and Ramirez from Mexico.
Armand and Ramirez first competed against each other at a number of events. About six or seven years ago in Quebec, Armand split off from his team, and Ramirez invited him aboard. The pair became fast friends from that moment on, winning award after award in their matching uniforms.
They like to push the limits with the sculptures, making certain parts of the pieces as dangerously thin as possible without it falling apart. In Minnesota, they made a scene titled “YeeHaa” that featured a girl hanging off her brother on a rocking horse. Ramirez was convinced it was going to break.
Source: Summit Daily