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Friday, January 24, 2020
Summit High School student competes at 30th International Snow Sculpture Championships in Breckenridge
For the past 30 years, Breckenridge has welcomed teams of talented sculptors to make intricate pieces of art out of 12-foot-tall, 20-ton blocks of snow. These competitors have spent about 65 hours this week to craft their designs without using power tools.
Alongside 11 other countries, the United States teams invited include Alaska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Vermont and Breckenridge, which will have local event co-founder Rob Neyland on the team. This year, organizers didn’t need to look far to find young blood eager to participate.
Eli Krawczuk-Cochrane, 15, has been sculpting for three years at the International Snow Sculpture Championships, usually on noncompetition sponsor blocks. His first was a collection of interactive toy blocks with a slide, and last year he helped on Bulleit Bourbon Frontier Whiskey’s teardrop trailer. Then when members of Team India got sick, Krawczuk-Cochrane had the fateful opportunity to actually compete at age 14 by assisting them in finishing their sculpture.
Coaching and mentoring Krawczuk-Cochrane is family friend Rick Seeley. A graphic designer, artist and professional snow sculptor, Seeley has been participating in the international event for 17 years. His team placed third at Berthoud’s state competition this winter, while last year they finished first and won best in show. In Breckenridge, he can frequently be seen working on the sponsored designs and judging the international competition.
But lately, more of his time has been spent fostering other young teams and mentoring students around Summit and Park counties. Seeley gets the kids familiar with the tools but also coaches them on how to stay positive and keep a proper mindset as they work on “taking away what isn’t.”
“Like Bob Ross used to say, ‘There’s no mistakes, just happy accidents,’” Seeley said. I just encourage them and let them know they can do this. Just giving them the opportunity to dive in when they say they don’t know how.”
If You Go
What:30th International Snow Sculpture Championships When:Jan. 24-29. Awards ceremony is at 6 p.m. Jan. 24 followed by the illumination of the sculptures at 7. The sculptures will come down at 7 p.m. Jan. 29. Where:Riverwalk Center, 150 W. Adams Ave., Breckenridge Cost:Free. Visitgobreck.comfor more information and to vote on your favorite before polls close Jan. 25.
Seeley said Krawczuk-Cochrane is the youngest kid he’s seen who has continued to pursue the art.
“I definitely want to stick with snow sculpting,” Krawczuk-Cochrane said. “It’s a really cool form of art, and it’s just a really awesome field to be a part of already and to continue to grow. It could be something a lot bigger than it is now, and it’s just an amazing thing that would be great to continue in the future.”
Part of the appeal of the medium is that there are no cash prizes at this competition. All competitors do it out of their love for sculpting and forming bonds with the visiting teams.
“It’s very rewarding when you put a piece together and have it come to fruition,” Seeley said. “What’s so interesting about the snow sculpting community, we’re different than any other community that does any kind of sculpture and competition. We want everyone to succeed.”