U.S. Snow Sculpting Championship begins in Lake Geneva
If you go
Winterfest in Lake Geneva continues through the weekend with activities from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
Winners of the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Competition will be announced at 3 p.m. Saturday. Sculptures will be on display in Riviera Park until they melt away.
For more information, including a complete schedule of events, go to www.usnationals.org.
LAKE GENEVA The experienced snow-sculpting team from Wisconsin is taking a serious approach to the competition: It's referring to a scale model, measuring cuts and setting aside large chunks of snow in case parts of the sculpture need repair.
The amateur team from New York, on the other hand, is taking a relaxed approach: They're relying on a messy drawing, eyeballing cuts and letting the snow melt a little so they can tinker with the sculpture.
Their strategies might be different, but the outcomes could be the same: "It'll probably fall down," members of both teams said.
Snow sculptors from across the country descended on Riviera Park on Wednesday to compete in the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Championship, the centerpiece of Winterfest in Lake Geneva. They will labor for three days and three nights—in temperatures both above and below freezing—to transform 9-foot-high, 7-foot-wide blocks of snow into works of art.
On one side of the competition site is the team from Wisconsin—brothers David and Chris Andrews—which is making its eighth appearance on the national snow-sculpting stage. The veteran sculptors wanted a challenge—something that would require accuracy and attention from the first slash of the saw to the last pass of the plane.
Their sculpture, appropriately named "Night Life," depicts an ornate street lamp crawling with nocturnal insects including a moth, beetle and cricket.
The Andrews brothers started by locating the major points on a scale model and the corresponding points on the snow block, drawing guidelines and making rough cuts, David said. Then, using conventional and unconventional tools, they'll saw, file and sand the snow to bring the sculpture to life, he said.
"We've gotta be precise," he said.
But higher temperatures forecast for later this week could pose a problem for a team that counts on working in the wee hours of the night, when temperatures are lowest, to carve out a national title, David said.
However, the team has a plan: It has large pieces of snow stored under a tarp—nicknamed "the refrigerator"—that could be carved to replace pieces of the sculpture that might melt away.
One the other side of the competition site is the team from New York—Doug Schatz, Tom Sperduto and Jason Wells. Making its first appearance in the national snow-sculpting competition, this trio of self-proclaimed "funny guys" is aiming for something that will make people laugh.
Their sculpture, cleverly named "Peanut Butter and Jellyfish," depicts a sly jellyfish holding an innocent peanut captive between two pieces of bread.
Sperduto said there's no strategy involved in turning a block of snow into a silly sculpture.
They started with "a really bad drawing," he said, scrawling an outline on the snow block and eyeballing rough cuts. Then, using saws, chisels and some homemade tools, they'll carve out something more detailed, he said.
"We'll procrastinate a lot, too," Sperduto said with a chuckle.
And some teams see the higher temperatures forecast for the rest of the week as a cause for panic, a bit of melting is alright for a team that prefers to fiddle in the snow, he said.
"If it falls down, it falls down," Sperduto said. "We're doing an underwater scene, so if it turns into water, it turns into water."
First-, second- and third-place winners are determined by the teams themselves, which consider creativity, technique and message when evaluating the sculptures.
Event visitors select the People's Choice award while the Spirit Award, determined by the previous year's recipient, is given to the team that best represents the ideals of the competition.
But it's not about the honors, Sperduto said.
"It's about having fun with the guys," he said.