Working 12- to 16-hour shifts over a three-day period in temperatures dipping to minus 12 F was worth the effort for Macomb Community College culinary arts students, Al Bock, of Clinton Township, and Brad Groszkiewicz, of Sterling Heights. They took fifth place for their ice sculpture, Octopus Garden, in the single-block abstract category of the BP 2013 World Ice Art Championship held in Fairbanks, Alaska, Feb. 26-28.
The competition is the world’s largest and most widely followed by the news media and ice carving fans alike, with 53 teams from 12 countries competing this year.
Each team started with a 5-foot by 8-foot by 3-foot block of ice and had 60 hours in which to complete their sculpture. Bock and Groszkiewicz said good planning was key to finishing the sculpture on time.
“We set goals each day for what we wanted to accomplish,” said Bock. “We’ve been practicing this piece for the last seven weeks at area ice shows and competitions, so we knew how to approach our carving.”
It proved to be a learning experience, however, to sculpt ice in subzero conditions. The students had to alter their sculpting techniques and heeded some of their competitors’ advice by building a hot box to thaw their equipment, eliminating the need to thaw their gear in a building and lose valuable time.
“The competition was fierce, but friendly,” Bock said. “Communication was difficult, but teams lent gear amongst each other and shared carving tips.”