You’ve Never Seen Snow Like This Before!

Check Out the Incredible Snow Sculptures from Breckenridge 2016

Team USA-Vermont, 2016 Gold Winner “Rhonda and Her Recycling Robo-Octopus,” Breckenridge International Snow Sculpture Championships

Breckenridge, Colorado is home to the Budweiser International Snow Sculpture Championships held at the end of January every year.

This is the 26th year of the competition. This year the Gold was brought home by Team USA-Vermont. Their winning sculpture, “Rhonda and Her Recycling Robo-Octopus,” depicts Rhonda, a young teenage scientist riding in her invention. The Robo-Octopus cleans the sea bottom!

Jenn Cram, judge coordinator and director of public programs and engagement for Breckenridge Creative Arts commented on behalf of the judging panel: “Vermont’s sculpture is visually delightful, it appeals to the child in all of us while addressing a serious global issue. The piece combined both technical risk and a high level of detail. It is superbly executed in 360 degrees.”

A total of 16 teams competing in this year’s competitions. Snow sculpture events like this allow only the use of hand tools. Team Loveland says:

They take two months to find and make the hand tools they would need to make the sculpture how they want it. No power tools are allowed.

“Every year I walk through Jax, Home Depot, the dollar store, I go through every aisle and my eyes go through all the shelves and think what would help us make this sculpture,” said Garett Dreiling, team captain, “I have an 8-foot saw to a thumb cheese grater. I even have a melon baller in there.”


There is a set size block of snow provided, and a limited time for the teams to create their master pieces.

Over a period of 5 days, the team have no more than 65 hours to complete their works. Stomping began January 18, when volunteers came in to stamp down snow the organizers have blown in. They repeat process until they have a solid block that is 12 feet high and 10 feet wide. 

The artists started getting their hands wet and cold on Jan. 26. But with the weather, timing is everything.

“We didn’t take the snow off the tusks until two minutes before the judging,” said Randy (Shorman of Team Loveland), “it was a good thing because one broke off about 45 minutes after the judging.”

This snow sculpting competition is one of the world’s most highly regarded events with teams from Canada, Mexico, 8 European teams, and even 2 teams from Mongolia.

Teams come together and also take great risks with their pieces, even though there are no cash awards. The artists do this for the medals, the recognition, and a small travel stipend to help cover their expenses.

Weather conditions in the Rocky Mountains can be quite varied, which contributes to the challenges the artists face. This year the temperatures swung widely and combined with wind and bright sunshine to cause several pieces to collapse before and after the end of the competition.

It was a reminder of the temporary nature of the medium and just how willing teams are to push the limits of snow. Judges recognized both German teams (whose pieces fell prior to the deadline) for their willingness to take risks. “We know that they are always contenders for this event,” said Cram.

You can see some photos and video of the event as it unfolded at the BreckConnection

If you want to get out and see the results in person, weather permitting–and based on the snow received in Colorado it is unlikely melting will be an issue–the sculptures will be up through this weekend. Just be prepared to see a lot of orange and blue in addition to the snow. (OK, if you aren’t from the US or at least Colorado then maybe you don’t know, the Denver Broncos will be playing in the Super Bowl this coming Sunday!)

Silver went to  Team Switzerland for “Converse.”

Team Loveland, 2016 Bronze Winner & Kids' Choice Award “Bolting from Extinction,” Breckenridge International Snow Sculpture Championships

Team USA-Loveland (Colorado, above) won Bronze with “Bolting from Extinction.” This sculpture also won the Kids’ Choice Award. The concept behind it is that nature doesn’t really support extinction, rather it is about transformation.

 Team Breckenridge, People's Choice Award "The Widow Maker" Breckenridge International Snow Sculpture Championships

Team Breckenridge (also Colorado) took home the People’s Choice award for their sculpture titled “The Widow Maker.”

Read more about the Breckenridge competition

Special thanks to Michelle Vendegna of the Loveland Reporter-Herald for her article on the bronze medalists which can be read here.

Photo of the Loveland team and their sculpture, John Smith, Steven Carmer, Garett Dreiling (team captain) and Randy Shorman (Special to the Reporter-Herald/ RANDY SHORMAN)

All other photos courtesy of