High school students, community show creativity with Winter Carnival snow sculptures | SteamboatToday.com

High school students, community show creativity with Winter Carnival snow sculptures

Steamboat Springs High School students Taylor Fielding, left, and Sarah Wittemyer work on their Sculpture "Larry the Turtle" for the 2019 Winter Carnival's snow sculpture contest, which took place on Lincoln Avenue.
John F. Russell

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — They can’t be missed as you’re heading down Lincoln Avenue. They are big, bold and beautiful, but in just a few days, they’ll disappear forever.

They are the sculptures that will be created Wednesday, Feb. 5, in the annual snow sculpture contest during Winter Carnival.

The snow sculpture event began in 1927 and was done solely by local high school students. Sculptures were originally created and displayed at Howelsen Hill but have recently been moved to dot Lincoln Avenue downtown.

When the high school started to see less participation, organizers decided to cancel the event.

Then came a public outcry.

“(The community) didn’t want this event go away,” said Dagny McKinley, development director for Steamboat Creates, which stepped in to continue the tradition in 2018.

The competition was then opened to the community, which was invited to sculpt alongside teams from the high school.

This year there are six guaranteed high school teams — more if they apply — and the remaining spots are open to community members for a total of 22 teams. Each team has five members.

Teams each get a blank canvas of snow measuring 4 feet by 4 feet by 8 feet. It can be sculpted horizontally or vertically.

“The process of it is really fascinating,” McKinley said. “You essentially get this huge block of snow, and you have to carve it away to create the look that you want. So it’s very technical.”

The team from Ohana works on its entry, “Snowbug,” for the 2019 Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival’s snow sculpture contest on Lincoln Avenue.
John F. Russell

It’s all sculpted by hand — no electric tools are allowed — and the only color allowed to be used is from nontoxic food coloring.

For all that hard work, the top three winning teams from the high school and community will walk away with some substantial prizes.

“We had a very generous donor this year that put up some money, because she really wants to see people get excited about sculpting snow again and wants to see the high school participation grow,” McKinley said.

First place for the high school team is a new pair of skis from Harvest Skis and, for the community team, a snowmobile tour for two from Steamboat Snowmobile Tours. Second place for both teams is a $100 gift card to Ski Haus and third place is a $20 gift card to Off the Beaten Path and $20 to Johnny B Good’s Diner. Each member of the winning teams receive the prize.

“That level of generosity and support of this event is really commendable,” said Kipp Rillos, business and economics teacher at Steamboat Springs High School.

Rillos has helped for the past 10 years as both a team sponsor and making the plywood forms for the snow sculptures.

If you go: 2020 Winter Carnival

Click here to view a full schedule of events for the 2020 Winter Carnival, running from Wednesday, Feb. 5, to Sunday, Feb. 9, in Steamboat Springs.

“It’s a big part of the tradition of Winter Carnival,” he said. “For the guests who are coming here for the first time that don’t really know what Winter Carnival is, it’s one of the triggers that lets them know there’s something going on as they walk up and down the street.”

McKinley recalled several sculptures that have stood out to her, particularly from last year’s event. Students had created a sculpture of three penguins, one holding a snowboard, one with a set of skis and another with a pile of snowballs. “It was super cute,” she said.

There was also a sculpture shaped into the form of a downhill tobogganer with the person’s helmeted head down on the snow.

It’s a special time for Steamboat, McKinley said.

“(It’s) one of the few times the entire community comes together, whether they’re sculpting or walking down the streets and looking at them all together,” she said. “I think there’s just a lot of pride in it. And it’s great also seeing the high school students come out and get creative.”

To reach Bryce Martin, call 970-871-4206 or email bmartin@SteamboatPilot.com.

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