The Super Bowl of Snow Sculpting

ELITE SNOW CARVERS GATHER IN LAKE GENEVA, WI TO COMPETE FOR NATIONAL CROWN

LAKE GENEVA, WI - While most Midwesterners choose to hit the beach or head to the mountains for a week of escapism, a winter vacation for a select group of individuals means battling days of subzero temperatures to create works of art that endure as long as temperatures remains below freezing.

For elite snow sculptors, the dead of winter means packing up the tools of their trade and heading to Lake Geneva, WI to compete in the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Championship, the top snow sculpting competition in the country.

Traveling from as far away as Alaska, the teams labor for three bone-chilling days and nights to create intricate, gravity-defying sculptures from three ton, 10-foot-tall cylinders of snow. The sculptors, men and women of all ages and from all walks of life, relish the opportunity to work side-by-side with the best in the business, each hoping to be crowned national champion.

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The event is truly a love affair for the participants as the teams brave the elements to compete in a competition offering only glory and bragging rights. The U.S. National Snow Sculpting Championship offers no cash prizes, only the chance to be proclaimed the best by your peers.

"Competing in the National Championship is an amazing challenge and one of the most unique experiences I've ever had as a sculptor," said championship snow sculptor David Andrews. "It's hard to explain, but there's something that happens when we're close to the end and working on the finishing touches. I look at what the team has created, the sculptures around us and recall the events of the past week. It's truly a euphoric moment. You say to yourself, 'Look what I've created out of snow.'"

The U.S. National Snow Sculpting Championship begins Wednesday, Feb. 4 with judging set for the following Saturday morning. The competition is the centerpiece of Lake Geneva's annual Winterfest celebration, a festival of family and fun along the banks of Geneva Lake. Weekend activities include horse drawn carriage and helicopter rides, children's entertainment in the famed Riviera Ballroom and a "meltdown" sale in the town's downtown business district.

Each snow sculpting team consists of three members, 18 years and older from the same state. No assistance is allowed at the sculpture site, except that given by competition organizers and ground crews. No media other than snow, ice or water are used in the snow sculpting process. Additionally, armatures, molded shapes and colorants are not allowed in the competition and only hand tools are permitted.

"It's not uncommon to see the sculptors working late into the night on Friday," said George Hennerley, executive vice president of the Lake Geneva Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. "In fact, most of the teams will forego sleep to ensure their sculptures are perfect for judging Saturday morning."

According to Hennerley, spectators shouldn't fret if snow is scarce as is sometimes the case. All of the snow utilized in the competition is produced and supplied locally by Grand Geneva Resort & Spa's Mountain Top ski facility.

"The ability to create our own snow is the key to producing a quality competition," added Hennerley. "As long as the temperature dips below freezing at night, Grand Geneva is able to create the 45 tons of snow needed for the contest."

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For additional information on the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Championship and Winterfest, visit www.lakegenevawi.com.

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