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The piece Team Breck constructed in 1987 for the newly sanctioned Colorado State Championships was titled “Earthlings” and depicted a woman swimming with a dolphin. A similar piece was constructed in 1988 at the U.S. National Championships, but with temperatures in Milwaukee hovering around freezing, the snow collapsed 20 minutes before the judging deadline.

“That was a crushing blow, I have to say, because we were in a dead-on lock to win the nationals with that piece,” Neyland said. “We dragged our sorry butts on back to Breckenridge and said next year we’re going to go back.”

The following year, in 1989, Team Breck again won the Colorado event and returned to nationals with a new sculpture concept titled “The Frozen Moment,” featuring a watch with exposed gears. The piece won a gold medal and the artists’ choice award, sending the local sculptors to the Carnaval de Québec, one of the largest and oldest snow art festivals in the world.

Word of the team from the little town in the Colorado Rockies spread, bolstered in the following years by gold-medal wins at the Sapporo Snow Festival in

Japan and the world championships in Finland and a silver medal at the world championships in Moscow.

“All the while, we’re wearing Breckenridge from head to toe and telling everyone that we’re putting together a competition in Breckenridge and y’all need to come so we can whip up on you in Breckenridge,” he said. “We were out to establish Breckenridge as a liable venue for an international competition. We were on the march to collect names and numbers to build a database.”

After years of compiling resources and contacts, Team Breck was ready to bring the international competition home. They put together a slide show of their work and presented it to “every organization that would sit still for it,” Neyland said, from realtors and lodging properties to the town council. All the hard work paid off in 1991,

when Breckenridge hosted its first International Snow Sculpture Championships.

Though the sculptures are self- supported, it still takes an entire community to hold them up. The gigantic event wouldn’t have gotten off the ground without the initial help and continued support from the people of Breckenridge, Neyland said.

“It is a tremendous tribute to this community that everyone steps up to do that — the ski area gave us the snow, the town gave us the machinery and the machine time, the concrete company


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