What do synchronized swimming, ping-pong, and ice-sculpting have in common? They're all Olympic sports. You've likely tried the first two, so why not complete the trio?
The World Ice Art Championships take place in Fairbanks in March. Small-truck-sized ice blocks are chopped and lifted out of a nearby lake, then cut into blocks that are distributed to competitors from countries ranging from Monaco to Mexico, Mongolia to Malaysia. Two-person teams in the single-block competition work for three days to fashion a block of ice weighing 7,800 pounds into animals, people, flowers, fantasy figuresor anything else their imaginations can conjure. Teams in the multi-block competition have six days to turn ten 4,400-pound ice blocks into sculptures ranging from a single massive piece to entire stage sets filled with multiple characters.
Visitors can watch the competitors work or tour the four-acre ice park, complete with ice slides, ice rides, an ice maze, and an ice rink. The award ceremonies take place at night, when the park, its sculptures lit by hundreds of colored lights, becomes a true wonderland of ice and imagination.
But this is also a participatory event, with a non-competitive amateur division open to neophytes. You must complete a short ice-sculpting and safety class, during which you'll learn to handle the tools of the trade, including chainsaws, irons, and chisels. You and your partner, if you have one, will be given a block of ice weighing approximately 3,600 pounds and then sent out to do your best. Two pieces of advice: Plan to devote at least a couple of days to this activity. And start simple: While the pros turn blocks of ice into finely chiseled and fanciful sculptures, beginners tend to be more successful with simple shapes like a snowman or a head. And, of course, be sure to sign up in advance.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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