Routt County students put creativity on display | SteamboatToday.com

Routt County students put creativity on display

Snow sculptures give students chance to shine

Jack Weinstein

— Armed with shovels, garden tools, saws and in one case a plastic sword, Steamboat Springs High School students took to Lincoln Avenue at about 8:30 a.m. Thursday to begin sculpting.

The group of about 120 students, including six from Christian Heritage School, worked throughout the day to transform blocks of frozen snow to depict their visions of this year's Olympic-themed Winter Carnival. Their goal: To transform the city's main drag into a display that represents Steamboat and highlights Ski Town USA's Olympic heritage.

"We like to show the tourists what the town is all about — creativity and passion," said senior Hannah Beggs, whose group was sculpting a heart in front of Steamboat Shoe Co.

Each year about 20 groups of six high school students are chosen from submitted entries to create snow sculptures in front of businesses that line Lincoln Avenue as part of the Winter Carnival festivities.

"It's a lot of fun," said senior Johnathon Ricker, whose group was making a steamboat in front of the Chieftan Building near Fourth Street and Lincoln. "You get out here to be part of the Winter Carnival experience."

There's also another advantage for the students, who played music from their cars and at times spent more time singing and dancing than sculpting.

Recommended Stories For You

"It definitely beats going to school today, being out here playing in the snow," said junior Hannah Ramirez, whose group was creating the 2010 Olympic logo in front of the Routt County Courthouse.

Said junior Michael Savory, "It's a unique tradition that not many kids get to do."

Savory's group was creating a bobblehead of Todd Lodwick. Fellow group member Kendall McGill, also a junior, said they wanted to make a skier's head because all the other groups were making objects.

"We did Todd Lodwick because he's from here, and it's a local thing, I guess."

Some groups' designs reflected winter themes, such as the halfpipe in front of Steamboat Ski and Sport or the hockey skate in front of Bushwhackers.

Other groups' sculptures reflected Olympic themes. Two were designing torches, including senior Kylee Swiggart's, in front of the Rabbit Ears Motel.

"There's one on the other end of town, too," she said. "It's to welcome people, like the regular Olympics."

Some sculptures, however, were specific to this year's Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Junior Olivia Clark's group was working on Quatchi, the Olympic mascot.

"It's from the mystical forest of Canada," she said. "We thought it represented the Olympic dream very well because it's the mascot. It brings the spirit to the Olympics."

Local businesses pay a $50 fee, which is dedicated to the high school's activities fund, to sponsor a student snow sculpture.

For the past five years, Alpine Bank has sponsored the sculpture in front of the courthouse, said Alice Klauzer, the bank's director of marketing and business development.

She said it's another way Alpine Bank is involved in the community. Klauzer said each year, bank employees bring the students hot chocolate and cookies.

"We freeze to death, but it's worth it," she said.

High school art teacher Morgan Peterson was making rounds Thursday afternoon, assisting groups with their designs.

In her first year helping with the student snow sculptures, she described the activity as a communal effort. Peterson said students would yell across the street at other groups to ask how their designs looked from a distance or to say they were taking shape.

"It's a competition to some degree, but they're all out here doing the best they can," she said. "I think it's great they don't hire professional snow sculptors and let the kids do it. There are some imperfections, but that's what makes it so much more a part of the community."

— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 871-4203 or e-mail jweinstein@steamboatpilot.com