Welsh Sculpting In The Snow

This year, for the first time, a team from Wales competed in the Budweiser International Snow Sculpture Championships. Along with 14 other international teams, the team entered the championships in the picturesque, historical mining-now-ski resort town of Breckenridge, Colorado, about a two-hour drive from Denver.

The Welsh team (called Great Britain-Wales) created the “Seven Deadly Sins,” an enormous snow sculpture depicting caricatures of the so-called seven deadly sins, each responding to each other. “Envy is reacting to Greed, while Lust is observing Pride and Sloth and Wrath are both being affected by Gluttony,” the team spokesperson explains.

Held since 1991, the Championships have just ended with 2013 providing the most international of championships as only two teams competed from the US. The “Events Business News” has named the International Snow Sculpture Championships as one of the top 200 events internationally.

Invitations went out last June to over 250 organizations which had until August to submit their designs. The Organizing Selection Committee decides who will attend the event. Teams provide their own transportation to Denver and are supported by a travel stipend supplied by the Town of Breckenridge. The Organizing Committee, with the help of many local sponsors, provide all meals and lodging for artists.

Team Great Britain-Wales was made up of a group of architectural stone carvers who live and work in South Wales. The members create snow sculptures in the winter as a hobby and have previously competed as a team in snow sculpting events in Sweden, Russia, Canada, and Italy. Original team captain Ollie Annaly suffered an injury before arriving and was replaced by Jake Savage. “I’m devastated that I have to stay home with a broken arm,” says Annaly, “but I am sure the lads will do their best with my design.” Other team members include Thomas Kenrick, Will Whitmore, and James Wheeler.

Each team consists of four sculptors and one member who is not allowed to sculpt. The teams carve unique sculptures, often depicting cultural influences, proud heritages and aspirations of those whose skills are involved. Only hand tools are allowed in the competition. The huge, approximately 20-ton sculptures are made from snow from the Breckenridge Ski Resort and the Breckenridge Public Works Department loads it onto trucks and hauls to the event site. The snow is blown into the blocks by a huge snow blower. The blocks of snow are almost a three-meter cube.

Front-end loaders take the snow from the dump trucks and load up the square wooden frames. The snow is blown into the blocks by a huge snow blower. After a couple of loads, about five to ten people climb into the blocks and stomp the snow to pack it into the blocks. The people then climb out of the block and another load gets dumped in and the people get back into the block and stomp the snow.

At the end of the five-day period (65 hours total), a panel of artist judges finds a favorite on the basis of theme, style, and technique. The winners were announced on the 27th January. Sadly, the Welsh team was not among the winners. First place went to Team Mongolia, Second to Team Catalonia-Spain and Third to Team Estonia.

Talking to me, Thomas Kenrick said, “We all absolutely loved taking part in the competition; meeting people from all over the world with a passion for sculpture. It transcended any language barriers and really was a joy. The organizers of the festival were fantastic. Team GB will make every effort to come back next year, and we will soon be working hard on next year’s design.”

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