The Breckenridge International Snow Sculpture Championship
If you live up north, you’ve probably made snow angels before. You’ve probably even built and outfitted a snowman. But have you ever seen or created a snow sculpture?
During the Breckenridge International Snow Sculpture Championships, 16 teams from around the world descend on Breckenridge, Colorado to hand-carve 20-ton blocks of snow into enormous works of art. Teams sculpt for 65 hours across five days – the result is a temporary outdoor art gallery in historic downtown.
Snow Sculpting by the Numbers
- 4: artists per team
- 12 feet: height of each blank block before sculpting begins
- 65 hours: total time allowed for competitors to sculpt across the five days of competition
- 250: teams invited to compete; only 16 are selected
- 320 tons: total amount of snow to create blocks for 16 teams
- 1990: First year of the Breckenridge International Snow Sculpture Championships
- 40,000 pounds: weight of each block before sculpting begins
The Snow Sculpting Process
As you might imagine, the competition starts with snow. The snow is made by the Breckenridge Ski Resort and then transported to the event site by dump trucks. Once there, the snow is loaded into wooden molds and pressed into 12 foot high blocks. Five to ten volunteers, “snow stompers,” climb onto the block and stomp on the snow to help pack it down.
Once the blocks are formed, the teams come in from around the world to start their sculpting. The teams have 65 hours and use hand tools to make their final products. Tools like vegetable peelers, chicken wire, and small saws are all fair game for the competition. Power tools, colorants, and internal support structures are prohibited.
The first, second and third place winners each receive a medallion, a trophy and a ribbon, and the glory that comes from creating something as astounding as these pieces. After the awards ceremony, the sculptures remain on display through February 7 for people to view as they like.