How hard is it to turn a huge pile of snow into two camels lounging under a canopy of palm trees? Find out this week at Breckenridge's Budweiser International Snow Sculpture Championships, when five American teams of sculptors -- along with fourteen teams from as far away as Bulgaria, Germany and Mexico -- will reshape twelve-foot-tall, twenty-ton blocks of hard-packed snow into exotic creatures and dazzling art forms. "They're not allowed to use power tools, so the teams have to be pretty creative," explains Lindsay DeWall of the Breckenridge Chamber of Commerce. "It's always interesting to look in their toolboxes; you'll see everything from huge shovels to carrot peelers and chicken wire."
Competitors, who will work on the lawn of Breckenridge's Riverwalk Center, can spend up to 65 hours between noon today and noon next Saturday, January 31, creating their sculptures. So far, plans call for a pair of whimsical cats batting a ball around, a temple made of columns etched with human faces, and an origami crane. "It's very interactive," says DeWall. "The artists are all really open and excited about explaining the process to visitors."
The contest ends with an awards ceremony at 3 p.m. on January 31; the cold creations will stay on display until February 8, weather permitting. "This is really an interesting sport and hobby," says DeWall. "It's not as dependent on geographical location as you would think. These teams all practice a lot and compete all over the world."
For more information, call 1-877-864-0868 or visit www.gobreckevents.com. -- Julie Dunn
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X Marks the Spot
Aspen embraces winter sports party
There's a coming-out party this winter in Aspen, but don't expect to see any debutantes. Look instead for the jammin' fans and participants of the ESPN Winter X Games VIII -- they'll be hard to miss. For the third year in a row, Aspen and Snowmass will host the popular event, during which more than 250 athletes will vie for medals and prize money in motocross, ski, snowboard and snowmobile competitions. The location of the games is typically switched every two years, but organizers have found Aspen so welcoming that they've decided to stick around.
Several changes have been made to the X Games format this year. Events will be broadcast live, thereby allowing fans to see all of the spontaneous mayhem (read: wipeouts) normally edited out. In addition, SportsCenter will air from the bottom of Buttermilk Mountain, so a large portion of the activities will take place at night under artificial lights. That means colder weather and rowdier, frost-hardened fans. Admission is free on a first-come basis, but plan to arrive early: Last year's games drew more than 48,000 spectators.
The Winter X Games run through January 27; learn more at www.aspensnowmass.com. -- Adam Cayton-Holland