Calgary teacher representing Alberta in national online ice sculpture competition

13 Feb 2021 | Canada | 258
Calgary teacher representing Alberta in national online ice sculpture competition

Scott Harrison started ice carving when he worked a job at the Chateau Lake Louise. That was more than 20 years ago. 

Today, the Calgary teacher has been selected to represent Alberta at the Winterlude ice sculpting competition.

The Ottawa-based competition is being held online this year with photographs and videos of the candidates. The public can vote for the winner. 

"Several years I've gone out and done well, but basically because of COVID this year, they weren't having any big international competitions," Harrison told The Homestretch.

"But Winterlude decided to profile seven carvers across the country and they threw out an invitation. And a bunch of us applied, and I got selected to represent Alberta."

Harrison's entry is called Rocky Mountain Blades, and depicts a downhill skier.

Along with ice sculpting, Harrison loves to ski and the two passions are linked in his life.

"You know, 20 some odd years ago when I worked at the Chateau Lake Louise, I saw the international competition for the first time," he said. 

"And it was one of those life moments where it wasn't, wow, I wish I could do something like that. It was, I looked at these carvers doing this, and I chose right then and there — I'm going to be that guy one day.

"I just started asking questions, getting coffee for carvers, you know, just a little bit of self-taught, and then ended up finding a mentor. And yeah, 20 years later, here we are."

Harrison has been to the Ottawa competition before. But everything is different this year.

"Generally, there's anywhere between 10, 12, even up to 20 international teams," he said. "Everybody is usually with a partner, and we get 15 blocks of ice and three days, usually about 30 hours total, and then everybody goes to town."

This year, he said it's a new concept. Each carver had a logistics team, a location and a film crew. Harrison was photographed and filmed by award-winning Alberta photographer Kristian Bogner.

"You know, it's a really neat concept and they really pulled it off," Harrison said.

"We selected a location up on like a steep hill at the ski resort there, because it was able to be COVID-compliant and people would be, you know, passing us. And it's easy to kind of keep people from congregating."

Harrison, who teaches culinary arts and some options classes, said he enjoys sharing his craft with his students at All Saints High School in southeast Calgary.

"Some of them think it's pretty cool, I think, you know, it's something different that I get to share with them. And I even have special projects sometimes with my advanced students to do a little ice carving," he said.

"And we've done different projects for the Calgary Catholic School Board as well. It's a fun, fun time for teaching and learning."

One of the skills Harrison said is crucial is drawing — but ice sculpting is a unique art form.

"It's a real good workout, you know, it's very physically demanding work, and especially since it usually has the temperatures to be doing it," he said. 

"It's definitely too cold right now to be comfortable and it is doable. But, you know, there's various techniques of freezing things together and just over time learning different ways to make it happen."

Harrison said there are some key aspects and skills needed for this type of work.

"I definitely say one of the key things to being able to sculpt anything is, you know, being able to draw first and visualize something in three dimensions," he said.

To see more of the competition or to vote, visit the Winterlude site. Voting is open until Feb. 21, and the winner will be announced the week of Feb. 22 CBC News