The Word Ice Art Championships… On the Road to the Olympics

"Ancient Fish" at the 2016 World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks, Alaska

The detail in the “Ancient Fish” or coelacanths, earned it top billing on my post today.

Aaron Costic had a dream. He wanted to become a chef. His skills at ice carving were so impressive, however, his instructor encouraged him to participate in ice sculpture competitions. His skills brought him to the World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks and then on to winning a gold medal in the Winter Olympics at Torino, Italy in 2006. This year he and his team-mate carved “Concentration” in Fairbanks, the sculpture I featured in my first blog on the competition.

Participation in the Winter Olympics speaks to the popularity of ice carving. It isn’t considered a sport at the Olympics but is seen as a Cultural Olympiad event.  The first competition was at the Calgary Winter Games in 1988. On years when the Winter Olympics are held, the World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks is considered a qualifying event.

Many of the best ice carvers in the world come to Fairbanks. The art I have included in this series certainly speaks to the talent of the carvers. It was exciting to be at the competition. I only wish I could have been there to see the sculptures lit up with colored lights. Even more, I wish I could have been in Fairbanks for the multi-block competition. Ice Alaska – Facebook includes photos of both if you are interested.

Today I am going to wrap up my photos of the 2016 World Ice Art Championships. In my next blog I will look at the Children’s Ice Park in Fairbanks, the Aurora Ice Carving Museum in Chena Hot Springs, and the snow carving contest connected to the Fur Rendezvous in Anchorage. In other words, I am not quite done with ice art!

"Don't Leave Me Now" Ice Sculpture at the 2016 Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Ice Carvers from Thailand (Is there ice in Thailand?) put the finishing touches on their graceful sculpture titled “Don’t Leave Me Now.”

"Don't leave me now" ice sculpture at the 2016 World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks, Alaska

“Don’t Leave Me Now” lit up by white lights on the night of the ice sculpture judging.

"First Breath" ice carving sculpture at the 2016 World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks, Alaska.

This beautiful sculpture reflecting the sky was called First Breath. It would have been an icy one.

"First Breath" ice carving sculpture at 2016 World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks, Alaska.

“First Breath” ice sculpture lit up at night.

"6 H" ice carving sculpture at 2016 World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Dean De Marais uses his chainsaw to put finishing touches on the ice sculpture known as H^2.

"H^2" ice carving sculpture at the 2016 World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks, Alaska.

H^2 prepares for takeoff at night. Or maybe it is landing.

"Son of Sun" ice carving sculpture at 2016 World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks, Alaska

“Son of Sun” was created by carvers from China.

"Son of Sun" ice carving sculpture at 2016 World Ice Art Championships.

“Son of Sun” at night

King Fisher ice carving sculpture at 2016 Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks, Alaska.

A fisherman displays his prime catch in “Kingfisher.”

The model that "Kingfisher" was based on.

The model that “Kingfisher” was based on.

"Snapped" ice carving sculpture at 2016 World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks, Alaska.

There was quite a set of chompers on this fellow titled “Snapped.” I’d give him a wide berth. But there was another reason for his wide open jaws besides hunger…

"Snapped" ice carving sculpture at night at the 2016 World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks, Alaska

A snapping turtle had him by the tail!

" Mission on Mars" ice carving sculpture at the 2016 World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks, Alaska.

A futuristic “Mission on Mars.”

"Destinee" ice carving sculpture at the 2016 World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Two carvers from France created “Destinee.”

Renewed Embodiment ice carving sculpture at the 2016 World Ice Art Championships in Fair banks, Alaska.

A carver adds a touch of color to this huge bear titled “Renewed Embodiment.”

" Star Gazing" moose ice carving sculpture at the 2016 World Ice Carving Championships in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Where there are huge bears, there are likely to be moose. His title: “Stargazing.”

"Hard to Handle" ice carving sculpture at the 2016 World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks, Alaska.

The title to this sculpture, “Hard to Handle,” seems something of an understatement.

This boy seems to have hooked into a whopper! It is my last photo for the 2016 World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks.

This boy seems to have hooked into a whopper! It is my last photo for the 2016 World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks.

35 comments on “The Word Ice Art Championships… On the Road to the Olympics

  1. There’s got to be some science behind all this, to get those combinations of clear and opaque ice. I kept thinking “this is best — no, this” until I got to the alligator. That’s my favorite — it’s just fun to see such a local icon done in such a non-local medium.

    • Science is right, Linda. A great deal of efforts goes into developing new techniques and tools. Interestingly, the ice they pull out of the lake is considered some of the clearest in the world. In most ice carving contests the ice is artificially made. One of the things that amazed me was the ability to create sculptures that could be balanced on such small bases and still hang together. One of the greatest fears the carvers have is that their masterpieces will crash before the judges arrive. –Curt

  2. It’s interesting that Aaron Costic wanted to be a chef and ended up carving sculptures out of ice. In some way a chef carves a dish out of edible ingredients. In the case of master chefs the result is a piece of art, both for the eye and the palate.
    The work you showcase is stunning. I love sculptures as much and maybe even more than paintings, and I must say that these artists who work with the ice are exceptional.
    What a trip you are enjoying. Have fun!

    • Hi Evelyn, I am catching up on comments lost deep in the innards of WordPress. This has apparently been hiding down there for quite awhile! Like you, Peggy and I are both fans of sculpture and the ice artists have definitely carved their own niche, so to speak. 🙂 I just used one of the photos for the Family Calendar we do through Apple each year featuring 12 of our favorite photo from the year. –Curt

  3. Amazing. In the words of the old song, “temporary beauty.”

    And, like you, my reaction was “ice carvers…in Thailand??” Reminds me of the Jamaican bobsledders. 🙂

  4. Curt, I’m wowed by the sheer skill, ingenuity and creative spirit of these creations. How long do they take to carve? Do you know? I really like them all but the grace of Thai entry ‘Don’t Leave Me Now’ is particularly striking. Oh, I love this armchair international travel – although never the same as seeing the sculptures in real life, alas! Meant to ask, how long do they remain here – until they melt? Would they melt? I’m not sure how much it warms up to there?

    • They are given 3 days to carve the ice, Annika. I think it is five for the multi block sculptures. And yes they melt. Fairbanks can climb up to 100 degrees F in the summer. 🙂 –Curt

  5. Living in Canada we enjoy seeing a lot of ice carving going on. These photos are astounding Curt. I don’t think I have ever seen such intricate or delicate sculptures. Very little margin for a wrong clip of the chain saw. 🙂

    • There was no doubt, Sue, these women and men are at the top of their art. I’m sure as the deadline approaches, and the pressure is on to finish, the fear of a slip increases. Some of these artists worked up to the last minute. –Curt

  6. Oh, these sculptures just get better and better. So intricate and detailed. And impermanent. Thank goodness for photography.
    So happy your visit with the family went so well. Have an excellent weekend. 🌵

    • I really liked First Breath as well. I was fascinated to learn about how much of ice art grew out of chefs learning to carve ice sculptures to decorate their tables. –Curt

  7. Ancient Fish has astonishing detail and First Breath is incredible at night. I grew up in tiny New Meadows, Idaho which is right next to very small McCall, Idaho. Back then (hopefully the tradition continues today) there was an ice sculpture event every year in McCall. The photos you show are glistening clear ice, but our were always opaque, so this is a very different scene. Even in our small town with white ice, our sculptures were incredible and it was the biggest event of the year in some people’s minds. I looked forward to freezing my butt off every year, with a cup of too-hot cocoa and marshmallows, walking in my Moon Boots up and down the streets of McCall to see the year’s temporary art. The skill of the artists and the level of detail they can create is worth multiple blog posts. I loved these, Curt. Thanks for the show!

    • I loved the ice art as well, Crystal. I was amazed at the beauty of the work. The ice came from a pond right next to the park and is known for its crystal clarity. Lucky you having grown up with it. I don’t think i ever saw ice carving until I went on a cruise. (Several of the artists got their start in chef schools.) Thanks. –Curt

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