Cats, fish, spacemen – oh my!

Yellowknifers braved the sharp winds blowing off Yellowknife Bay to check out the carved snow sculptures depicting things from here and things from out there at Snowking’s sixth annual international snow carving competition on Saturday.

Since last Wednesday the six teams from around the world had been working away on their icy creations in front of the Snow Castle.

On their first carving trip to Yellowknife and also working together as a team for the first time was the Big Rock Candy Mountain Crew, from our territorial neighbour to the west. The Whitehorse ice artists made “Everybody Wants to be a Cat” – a huge cat putting a fish into its mouth.

Dawn Detarando, left, and Brian McArthur pose beside their snow statue depicting guitar-playing Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield. Their work was tied for first place in the carving contest. Blair McBride/NNSL photo
Jocelyn Lesage, left, his brother Joshua and Erin Corbett crouch as their snowy feline prepares to eat a fish behind them. Blair McBride/NNSL photo


The snow artists worked on their creations in front of the Snow Castle on Yellowknife Bay. Blair McBride/NNSL photo

“Awesome snow. Good hosts,” Erin Corbett, from Whitehorse, sais.

The Albertan and Manitoban carvers from the team New Friends brought together outer space and Canadiana in their statue of astronaut Chris Hadfield playing a guitar, replete with a little pig at the back.

The three artists have about 20 years of carving experience but this year was the first time they’ve worked together, and their first time working in Yellowknife.

“We’ve all done carving with different teams and people in the past,” said Jodine Pratt, from Winnipeg. “The snow here is the best here because it comes right off the lake, it’s so pure. There is no dirt or grass in it. It’s such a fun place to come.”

The carvers of team Ottawa, all from the national capital, also joined in the space theme and built a moon lander ship.

“This is our second year (at the competition). I’m glad to be invited back. All the organizers have been really good to us,” said Craig Carmichael.

Ude Foehring, left, James Cook and Craig Carmichael pose in front of their snowy moon lander.
Blair McBride/NNSL photo

Team Tropic Thunder, whose members come from Calgary and Whitehorse created a statue with culinary content and an almost science-fiction theme.

“We call it ‘Black Hole’” said Alia Shahab, from Calgary. “It’s a waffle going into the black hole of a doughnut.”

Michel Gignac, left, and Eric Heitmann work on “Black Hole”, a sculpture of waffles being sucked into the black hole of a donut. Blair McBride/NNSL photo
Alia Shahab smooths the side of a waffle for “Black Hole.” Blair McBride/NNSL photo

Team Alaska’s “Gone Fishing” sculpture consisted of a fishing shack being consumed by tentacles from the deep.

“This is our fourth time in Yellowknife. Always good to come here,” said Michael Lee, from Skagway, Alaska.

Ken Graham, left, Michael Lee and Philip Clark crouch in front of “Gone Fishing”, their sculpture of a set of tentacles consuming a shack, which was tied for first place in the contest. Blair McBride/NNSL photo

The trio of Nomadart, from Clermont-Ferrand in central France carved up a giant Goldorak figure, based on a robot character from a Japanese cartoon of the 1970s.

“Last year it was so hot and the sculptures were melting a bit. This year is much nicer. This is our third year. Each year we do this one and in Winnipeg the Festival du Voyageur,” said Arnaud Roblet.

Friederike Schroth, left, Fabien Champeval and Arnaud Roblet pose in front of their sub-zero version of Goldorak, a robot character from a Japanese cartoon of the 1970’s. Blair McBride/NNSL photo

A panel of judges assessed each sculptures based on creativity, technique and degree of difficulty. In the final tally two teams were tied for the top spot: Team Alaska and New Friends, who each received 157 points, Ottawa came second with 138, Tropic Thunder was third with 132.5, Nomadart fourth with 125 and last but not least was Big Rock Candy Mountain which received 123 points.

Carving competition organizer Snowdrift Dave Zethof said there was high turnout and enthusiasm from the public this year.

“It was (also) our largest amount of teams to date and also some of the most high calibre teams we have seen. This was a first for having the teams collaborate with the castle theme and the results were fantastic!”

The competition comes amid the Snowking’s silver jubilee marking 25 years the festival has been running in Yellowknife.

Blair McBride

Blair McBride covers the Legislative Assembly, business and education. Before coming to Yellowknife he worked as a journalist in British Columbia, Thailand and Ontario. He studied journalism at Western...

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