The coolest gold medal of all

The roads in Sandton are covered in ice, the mountains in the Western Cape are snow capped and many a road in the country has been closed down due to one of the most serious winters in sunny South Africa’s history. This winter chill got me thinking how many other countries there are in the world who celebrates the sub-zero skill of ice sculpting?

The masters of the art – it seems – are chilling out in Quebec, Canada. A marathon three week ice sculpting festival takes place every year where ice artists from around the world come to show off their carving and sculpting skills. It seems that Quebec’s fascination with ice sculptures started way back in the late 1800’s when Louis Jobin was one of the first artists to consider using a temporary medium such as ice. The Quebec City Winter Carnival seems to be the biggest event of an icy nature, even though there are quite a few such festivals in Canada alone.

Another country in love with ice is China. In the freezing Heilongjiang province, ice sculptures can be as big as buildings! As the word spreads across the world these Chinese festivals increase every year with more international representation year after year. The decorations that compliment the ice sculptures might seem more at home on the Starship Enterprise than an ice sculpting festival – lasers, huge displays, lighting tricks…

Another world power house in ice sculptures is Japan. Sculptures the size of multiple story buildings decorate the landscape in the city of Sapporo during its winter festival. Many of the world’s finest ice artists have learnt their art in the freezing Japanese winters since the 1930’s.

But where will you find all the best ice artists in the world? In a little place called Fairbanks in Alaska. Fairbanks has been hosting the World Ice Art Championship since 1989. Hundreds of competitors take part in this ice derby whilst thousands of spectators are there to witness the beautiful creations. It’s a pretty big deal as far as ice sculpting goes.

The biggest event is the two-man-team single block classic where teams have to create something out of four tons of solid ice within two days. The multi-block classic is made up of four-man-teams. These teams have to go at four different blocks of ice to produce massive sculptures that can weigh up to 20 tons!

So, if you are looking to win the coolest gold medal around, make sure you get down to the World Ice Art Champs in Fairbanks.


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