The “Popeye” snow sculpture, by students Abraham Rodriguez, Rogelio Loya, Daniel Delgadillo, Jose Luis and Alan Nunez in Old Town Square won first place in last year’s sculpture contest.

Photo by Matt Stensland

The “Popeye” snow sculpture, by students Abraham Rodriguez, Rogelio Loya, Daniel Delgadillo, Jose Luis and Alan Nunez in Old Town Square won first place in last year’s sculpture contest.

Students gear up for snow sculpture contest

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Students carve snow into a sculpture along Lincoln Avenue during the snow sculpture contest in a past Winter Carnival.

— David Mucklow hopes this is the year. It’s his last chance.

The Steamboat Springs High School senior has submitted entries in the past to participate in the annual Winter Carnival student sculpture contest, with little luck.

“I’ve tried every year and never made it,” Mucklow said. “When it was a Western theme, I submitted a spur and didn’t make it.”

A committee of high school administrators selects 18 groups of six or fewer students to create the sculptures based on how their designs fit with the 97th Winter Carnival Olympic theme, “Live the Dream.” All high school students are eligible to participate.

On Feb. 3, the students chosen to participate in the sculpture contest will work with city of Steamboat Springs public works employees to fill the square wooden frames with snow. After they’ve frozen overnight, the students — excused from school that day —return to begin sculpting, said Tracy Barnett, program manager for Mainstreet Steamboat Springs, one of the event’s sponsors. She said they’re judged that night.

Barnett said the purpose of Winter Carnival is to engage as many people in the community as possible.

She said the sculpture contest pairs local business owners — who pay $50 to have a sculpture in front of their stores, with the money going to the high school’s activity fund — with students. Oftentimes, she said, the business owners will give students hot cocoa and snacks as they work.

As the application period neared for the sculpture contest, high school students started thinking about possible designs.

But not many were willing to share their ideas. The competition to be selected is fierce, they said.

Junior Sara Hoing hopes to be one of the few selected this year.

“I haven’t done it before,” she said. “It looks like it would be a lot of fun and interesting to make a sculpture to see how it turns out.”

Senior Drew Ruff also hopes to get a chance to be a part of displaying some of Steamboat’s snow culture.

“I think it would be fun,” he said. “I haven’t done it yet, and I’ve always wanted to do it. I think we’d get out there with a set plan and do something completely different.”

Ally Wetzler, a junior, participated last year. Her team earned honorable mention for sculpting a bear.

“We had to get some help, but after, it turned out really good,” she said.

This year, art teacher Morgan Peterson will be providing guidance while students create their sculptures. She replaces counselor Mike Campbell, a 20-year veteran of the contest who is taking a leave of absence this school year.

Peterson admitted that she doesn’t have a lot of experience with snow sculpting. But she said that while at the University of California, Santa Cruz, she created a giant banana slug sculpture out of snow.

“My role in this is to provide the artistic vision or drive,” she said.

Karen Campbell, the high school’s office manager, has been involved with the sculpture contest at various times and said it’s an important event for students.

“The Winter Carnival is something the entire community celebrates,” she said. “This is a good demonstration of how the students can be involved in the community and a community event. It allows our students to demonstrate their talents to the community.”

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