Novice competitor goes to world-class snow sculpting showdown
Tim Wedel had some childhood experience sculpting snow, but those winter days spent building snowmen, admittedly, did not prepare the Palisade man to compete against some of the best snow sculptors in the world.
Fortunately, Wedel was not alone.
Wedel was one of four men — all named Tim — who recently represented the U.S. in a snow sculpting competition as part of the 30th World Snow Festival in Grindelwald, Switzerland.
Even though Wedel had no previous competitive snow sculpting, he was asked to join the U.S. team because of his sculpting knowledge and friendship with two of the other team members from ceramics classes at the University of Colorado in Boulder.
Wedel, an accomplished ceramic artist, shows at galleries and at his studio.
The four members of the U.S. team spent nearly five days, including one all-nighter, to build a flying man that the team felt best illustrated this year’s festival theme of the “pioneering spirit.”
The men took a basic block of snow, measuring approximately 10 feet long and 10 feet wide but 12 feet high and turned it into a man sailing on clouds atop a bicycle-turned-flying machine complete with wings, rockets and balloons.
The U.S. team captured third for the sculpture.
South Korea won the festival. France took second.
“What a crazy thing to do,” Wedel said Friday, back in the warmth of his Palisade home, although two pairs of snow pants and a winter coat still hung outside to dry, as evidence of his recent trip abroad.
“It was fun. ...We went whimsical and wanted to push the boundary of snow in a gravity-defying way,” he said.
Wedel’s teammates were team captain Tim Schwander, Tim Savage Curry and Tim Upham. They decided to build a flying machine to illustrate the pioneer spirit because the men agreed that pioneers took risks and dreamed big.
“I think overall we had one of the best teams that I’ve ever carved with,” Schwander said.
The individual members of the U.S. team were given small trophies of crystals from the Eiger, a mountain in the Bernese Alps near the festival’s base.
Wedel said it was interesting to watch the 10 teams sculpt snow with handmade stainless steel tools — power tools were not allowed — and adapt when temperatures warmed, threatening the integrity of their sculptures.
Overall, he added, it was a tremendous amount of fun and physically exhausting. But, he is pleased to be back in Palisade where there is far less snow than in the Swiss Alps.