Wisconsin snow sculptors; champions at international competition

The Midwest winter storm skirting the Wisconsin-Illinois border might be a headache for our neighbors to the south. But the cold weather is perfect for snow sculpting – and four Wisconsinites did just that in Colorado.

The Wisconsin team turned a 25-ton block of snow into a work of art.

"Our state has great representation in the art of snow sculpting," said Jeff Shawhan, snow sculptor.

The piece you see here took first place at the International Snow Sculpture Championships.

"Our seventh time going, first time winning. So it’s kind of a big deal in our mind because we call it the Super Bowl of snow sculpting," said Brett Tomczak, snow sculptor.

Nine teams were selected to compete out of 250 total across the nation. The winning sculpture was called "Digital Divide" – and was designed as a human and robotic hand separated by a wall of data.

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"We were just reminding people to be careful with how much information you put out there," Tomczak said.

Brett Tomczak

There was nothing digital about the sculpting process. No power tools were allowed. Teams were provided a 12-foot tall block of snow – and 94 hours to complete their work.

The weather was the sculptors' biggest challenge.

"When the sun comes out it gets really warm and it only shines on one side of the block so you really have to watch out when you’re forming things and fabricating things not to touch certain surfaces at certain times," Shawhan said.

Jeff Shawhan

The Wisconsinites start with a drawing and figure out the rest on the fly. They have been sculpting together more than 20 years – starting at local contests and now, top prize.

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"It’s bragging rights, it’s a sense of accomplishment…being able to say you did it," Tomczak said.

There are plenty of snow and ice art competitions going on this winter – including Lake Geneva's snow sculpting competition. It started Wednesday, Feb. 2 and runs through Saturday, Feb. 5.


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