Steamboat Springs The temperature was well below zero Thursday morning, but the high school students of Steamboat Springs had work to do.
The frigid weather did not stop them from lugging five-gallon buckets of water onto the sidewalk to harden snow into the ice sculptures that will line Lincoln Avenue during Winter Carnival.
The idea is to build a sculpture using the year's theme.
"I think the theme is the 40th Anniversary of the Steamboat Ski Area or maybe it has something to do with Howelsen," Steamboat Springs High School senior Daniel Brenner said. "To tell you the truth, I don't think the theme matters."
What usually happens, Steamboat Springs High school junior Rory Clow said, is that the sculptors start with an idea and then it falls apart and they just build whatever the clump of snow looks like to them.
On Wednesday, city employees packed snow into wooden forms with front loaders.
"We started this morning by jumping up and down on the snow to pack it down more," Clow said. Then they spent the morning picking and scraping the snow pile with garden tools, ice picks and, in this case, a machete.
Clow and Brenner's team, sponsored by Winona's Restaurant and Bakery, built a bear holding a coffee mug and skis.
"We were supposed to be the only bear this year, but by the end there were four others," Clow said.
This is Clow's third year making a sculpture for Winter Carnival. Last year, her team was trying to get people to come to the high school's play -- an Irish production.
"It was supposed to be a Leprechaun, but it turned into a snowman," she said.
Sculptures were sponsored by Lincoln Avenue businesses for $50 apiece. The money goes to the builders' high school. This year, Steamboat Springs High School students made 15 sculptures and Christian Heritage School students made one.
Jerry Kozatch, owner of Ambiente Home Furnishings and Gifts, sponsored a sculpture for the front of his store.
"They built a really cool ski boot," he said. "I'm impressed."
He gave the sculptors hot chocolate and cookies to fight off the cold as they worked. This is Ambiente's third year sponsoring a sculpture in the event, but some longtime businesses on Lincoln Avenue, such as Lyon's Drug, have had sculptures in front of their shops since the tradition began.
"You lose track of time, but I think we've been doing this for 15 or 20 years," Lyon's Drug owner Tom Clapsaddle said. "We think it's a great way to get high school students involved and I think as long we are here, we are going to be a part of it."
At 4 p.m. Thursday afternoon three judges, all Steamboat Springs City Council members, rated the sculptures and awarded first, second and third place to be announced at the respective schools today.