Ice sculptures suffer in deep freeze

Posted: Tuesday, March 18, 2003

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- After this year's unusually warm winter, a funny thing happened at the World Ice Art Championships last week.

Four of the sculptures broke in the deep freeze that gripped Fairbanks.

One of those sculptures -- six days in the making -- broke just minutes before it was to be judged Sunday.

The sculpture called ''Chains'' was an interpretation of Michelangelo's David. But David lost his gigantic head and body which toppled from its frozen perch.

Instead of being disappointed, sculptor Junichi Nakamura and his team from Japan didn't mind. Nakamura has won numerous awards during his seven years at the ice carving competition, including a first place in this year's single-block competition.

''We just want to have fun,'' said Shinichi Sawamura, one of the team members.

This year, four sculptures cracked and broke at different times during the competition. While it's not uncommon for sculptures to break, it's rare when there are so many, said Fred Freer, judge coordinator for the past seven years.

Two carvings entered in the realistic category, ''Chains'' and an international team's ''Walking Beyond Three Seas,'' both fell apart before their judging.

It's also the first time the carving had to be suspended because of cold temperatures.

Dick Brickley, Ice Alaska's chairman, said the 50-below-zero wind chill prompted officials to stop the construction of the large entries Thursday night.

''It's incredibly cold for the people. They could get frostbit and not even know it,'' Brickley said.

The carvers were told at 9:15 p.m. Thursday to go home and get some rest before returning to resume their work at 9 a.m. Friday.

That is why the multi-block competition, in which competitors are given 10 blocks of ice that weigh about 4,000 pounds each to sculpt and assemble, ended Sunday instead of Saturday.

''We're not out there to hurt anybody,'' Brickley said. ''It was absolutely miserable out there.''

Two days into carving the giant globe that would be part of the ''We Are the World'' entry -- the roughly 6-foot high bowl that was taking shape collapsed Wednesday -- brushing sculptor Kevin McDonald off his scaffolding and causing team member Dennis Beach to jump for safety.

It took Beach's crew the rest of the day Wednesday to clean up the mess, then come up with a new idea.

What they finished with was a square model of the world sitting in the palm of a huge hand. The icework was dubbed ''We Are the World 2.'' It took fifth place out of eight entries in the realistic category.

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