In my book, every trade show or conference necessitates at least a day or two of recovery, ideally in a ski town. So on my way home from SIA in Denver, I stopped in Breckenridge. I hadn't been there since a family ski trip in, oh, 1993. It wound up being a surprisingly fitting remedy to that peculiar condition I call florescent-light overexposure.
This weekend the Breckenridgians (or whatever you call them) held their annual snow sculpture championships. I know what you're thinking and no, this is not on par with ski ballet. Basically each team gets one 12-foot 20-ton block of snow and 65 hours to carve something marvelous. This year 13 teams arrived, snow tools in hand, from as far as China, Lithuania, Russia and Mexico. Who knew snow sculpting was so competitive? Turns out the Lithuanians won with a peace symbol, a team from Ontario came in second, and Mexico snagged bronze.
While checking it all out, I met a guy named Rob who had lived in Breckenridge for over 20 years and had been snow sculpting for about the same amount of time. He was your classic old-timer ski bum, an increasingly rare species that you can only spot in mountain towns.
"You know why this event is so great?" he said, and I could tell something pseudo-philosophical was going to come next. "Because we all love carving snow. That's why we're here in the first place. And this, well this is just a different way of carving snow, a different kind of art." I love that no matter how many tourons a big mountain like Breckenridge might attract, the local ski-bum philosophy still thrives. Welcome to Breck, I thought. And then I went skiing...