The Spectacular 2016 World Ice Art Championships … The Alaska Series

2016 Word Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks.

Title: Concentration. This ice sculpture won first prize for realistic portrayal at the 2016 World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks, Alaska.

I’ve been teasing you this past week with re-blogs from a trip Peggy and I made to Alaska three years ago. Today marks the start of a short series on the trip we just completed. Welcome aboard!

We joined our son Tony, his wife Cammie, and three of our grandkids: 7-year old Connor, 5-year old Chris, and 3-year old Cooper. (That was a trip within itself— grin.) Tony flies helicopter rescue missions for the Coast Guard out of Kodiak, Alaska. If you ever watched the Weather Channel series, Coast Guard Alaska, you have an idea of the type of work he does.

2 Tony and family

Our son Tony, his wife Cammie, and our grandchildren Cris, Connor, and Cooper (left to right). We are on the Alaska Railroad here. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

We began our adventure at the Anchorage Fur Rendezvous where the sled dog races caught my attention. I have never seen dogs so eager to run. Even my old Basset Hound Socrates woofing in slow pursuit of a fast rabbit failed to show such enthusiasm. (I used to tell Soc that the only chance he had of catching a rabbit was if it were rolling around on the ground laughing so hard it couldn’t get up.)

3 Luke Skywalker

I am going to do a post on sled dogs but I thought I would start today by introducing you to Luke Skywalker, a sled dog we met at Chena Hot Springs outside of Fairbanks. Jabba the Hut was located in the next doghouse.

We also watched firemen, college students and a group of Mormons get in the spirit of racing— but instead of hauling sleds, they were hauling outhouses. And yes, someone had to sit on the pot. An Alaskan style parade we viewed had so many princesses that the announcer joked that anyone with a tiara could join. Peggy and Cammie practiced their princess waves.

Practicing princess waves at the 2016 Fur Rendezvous

Cammie and Peggy practice their princess waves. All they were missing were tiaras. A grumpy Alaskan apparently wasn’t amused.

Our 12-hour trip from Anchorage to Fairbanks on the Alaska Railroad was a highlight. We had a beautiful day with views of Mt. Denali, moose, and a pair of wolves. The route has to be one of the most scenic train trips in the world and the engineer stopped frequently to allow passengers an opportunity to enjoy the view. (Thus the 12 hours.)

Alaska Railroad on the way to Fairbanks.

Our trip by train took us from Anchorage to Fairbanks through very scenic country. The journey will have its own post.

Equally impressive, but in a different way, were the 2016 Word Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks.

I am going to start with the ice carving competition simply because it was so spectacular. We really had no idea what to expect. There are both single block and multi block contests. What we saw was the single block contest with the blocks cut out of a local lake. Each block measured 3 by 8 by 5 feet and weighed approximately five tons. Teams of two people were given 60 hours to complete their masterpieces. A variety of tools were used in the process ranging from specialized chain saws to chisels. Most sculptures started with several parts (legs for example), all of which were ‘glued’ together using an icy slush. It isn’t unusual for an art piece to fall apart. Imagine that after 60 hours of work! I heard one artist comment to another, “You owe me a dollar. It’s still standing.”

2016 Word Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks.

A pair of very cold legs wait to be attached to an equally icy body of a naked woman riding an ostrich. Sketches on the upper left provide the artists with directions for their sculpture.

We made two trips out to the Fairbank’s Ice Park. (There is a lot going on there besides the contest. A dozen or so ice slides kept the boys and Peggy busy. Even Grandpa was brow-beaten into two bumpy rides, one on his butt and one on his belly.) On our first trip to the park, we watched the competitors as they scrambled to complete their work. That night we returned to view the finished works of art when the actual judging was taking place. While the sculptures are normally lit up by colored lights, only white light is allowed during judging. As I made my way through the exhibition, I could understand why. Given the number of truly impressive ice sculptures, I am going to do two or three posts on the competition. Let me know your favorites.

The sculpture, Concentration, at the 2016 Word Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks.

We were able to visit the park while the artists were finishing up their work. This photo of “Concentration” provides a perspective on the size of the sculptures.

A full view of the sculpture Concentration at the 2016 Word Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks.

A full view of “Concentration” at night on the night of the judging.

A close up of the sculpture "Concentration" at the 2016 Word Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks.

And a closeup to provide an idea about the detail the artists work into their pieces— right down to the dimple on the knee.

The sculpture "

I thought this sculpture titled “A Beautiful Noise” was fun during the day.

2016 Word Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks.

Here it is at night.

"Still I Rise" sculpture at the 2016 Word Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks.

“Still I Rise” has his feet worked on. Hands and chains have yet to be added. I thought the green against the pure white provided a great contrast.

Night photo of sculpture "Still I Rise" at the 2016 Word Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks.

Chains broken, “Still I Rise” is freed to soar off into the heavens.

The "Jellyfish Hunter" is carved at the 2016 Word Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks.

The “Jellyfish Hunter” receives its final touches before judging. Note the size of the scaffolding.

The "Jellyfish Hunter" lit up at night at the 2016 Word Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks.

Lit up at night, the “Jellyfish Hunter” has caught its jellyfish.

A close up of the Jelly Fish Hunter at the 2016 Word Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks.

A close up of the Jellyfish Hunter— a magnificent creature indeed.

The "Stuck Up" sculpture at the 2016 Word Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks.

“Stuck up,” a fun title for a fun sculpture captured here during the day lit up by the sun.

The sculpture "Stuck Up" by night at the 2016 Word Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks.

“Stuck Up” by night.

The "North Wind and Sun" sculpture at the 2016 Word Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks.

“The North Wind and Sun” almost silver reflecting the cold north sun. Temperatures were in the teens, however, balmy for Fairbanks in the winter. (I’ve been there at -35 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. Occasionally the thermometer reaches a minus 50.)

"The North Wind and Sun" sculpture at the 2016 Word Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks.

A final view of the North Wind for this post.  My next blog will include many more of these beautiful ice sculptures.


46 thoughts on “The Spectacular 2016 World Ice Art Championships … The Alaska Series

    • The North Wind was beautiful, Carrie. I took several photos of it and then debated over which ones I would post. 🙂 As for the cold, Anchorage seemed positively balmy from what I remembered when I lived there. Global warming… Fairbanks was below zero but not the -35 I experienced. –Curt

  1. Curt, the intricate detail in these sculptures are astonishing. Stunning. So sheer and delicate looking but they obviously remain standing. Thank you for sharing and I look forward to the reading about Luke Skywalker and the other sled dogs.

    • It is a totally different art form. I will write a bit about the artists in my next blog, Annika. As for the sled dogs, I was truly impressed with how much joy they take in their work. –Curt

    • I agree, Chas. I mentioned to another blogger that it reminds me of the art at Burning Man that burns. Interesting contrast between the hot desert and the cold north, both producing beautiful, transient art. –Curt

  2. Seems like you’ve gone from the sublime to the ridiculous – Burning Man to Ice Art. No lasting art at either 😉 Some very impressive art here too – my favourite so far is Stuck Up. Did anyone take a snap of you on those slides?

    • There is one slide photo which may see the light of day. (Grin) Peggy couldn’t make the camera work for my belly slide, however. Just as well. Stuck Up had a unique look… humorous during the day and etherial at night. –Curt

  3. Maybe its because of my location, and the number of jellyfish I see, but I love the jellyfish hunter. It’s by far my favorite. For one thing, it’s amazing to me that the sculptor could capture the diaphanous tentacles frozen in time, as it were.

    It’s wonderful to see them lit, too. There are details that emerge that just couldn’t be seen in bright sunlight.

    • And the skin of the hunter with its unique markings… The next night, which I didn’t get to see, colored lights were added. I wish I could have compared the day, with the white lights, with the colored lights, Linda. I’ve seen photos, however, and I think I prefer the white lights. I will show several sculptures in colored lights that weren’t part of the competition. –Curt

  4. Spectacular! I am rather impressed with your daytime and nighttime photos here. The daylight photos of ice sculptures must have been tricky. My fave of this group is Jellyfish Hunter. But I can’t get over the clear glass limbs of Concentration.

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