Vandals strike snow sculpture

For the second year in a row, vandals have targeted snow sculptures at the annual International Snow Carving Competition at Shipyard's Park.

For the second year in a row, vandals have targeted snow sculptures at the annual International Snow Carving Competition at Shipyard’s Park.

The event, which attracts artists from all over the world, is part of the Rendezvous festival and goes until Saturday.

Last year, vandals destroyed and partially damaged several sculptures at the popular event. A 15-year-old and a 16-year-old were arrested and charged with mischief.

Wednesday evening, Team Finland/Czech Republic was on the receiving end of damage inflicted while they were attending the city’s civic dinner at the nearby Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre.

The culprits may have used the opportunity to carve their names into one of the walls of the sculpture, which is still in its early phase. “Bri. Jimmy,” “Tiana Leash” and “Watson Lake” were scrawled in the snow.

Donald Watt, a world-famous snow sculptor who runs the event with his wife Evi, found out about the vandalism and told the team, who rushed back.

Team member Minna Eloranta said the damage could have been a lot worse.

“We took a look and thought, “Oh, that’s not too bad,” she said, pointing to the wall where the carving had been polished off.

“If it had been done with a marker or spray, it would have been a lot worse because the snow is wet and sucks in the colour. It’s always a risk when you leave a sculpture out.

“You have to trust people to respect the work.”

And it’s not easy work.

Competitors spend 10 to 15 hours a day working on their sculptures, Eloranta said.

Thankfully, the vandals picked a wall that was already under construction.

Sculptors always leave an outside layer that’s an inch or two thick, what they call a “safe zone,” to mitigate incidents like this.

The team is using their giant block of snow to carve three horse heads, each seen from a different perspective.

This is their second trip to Whitehorse, having been here three years ago for the same competition.

Eloranta, who lives in Turku, Finland, has been sculpting snow for about seven years.

The team, also made up of fellow Finn Saila Hustrup and Czech Jan Lastovicka, travel quite a bit each February.

They just came from a snow-carving competition in China and they’ve also been to similar events in Colorado, California and Italy.

Eloranta said this was the first time any of her sculptures had ever been vandalized.

“In Italy, for example, the snow carving attracts a lot of tourists, and in Colorado, too,” she said.

Users on the event’s Facebook page spent the day contemplating punishments for the vandals, who weren’t caught.

Comments ran the gamut from having to do community work to serving actual jail time.

“I think they should have to do some cleaning up during the weekend, to show them how to respect things and what’s around you,” wrote Cheryl Huston.

The 12th annual International Snow Carving Competition also features teams from Sweden, Estonia, China, Japan, Manitoba, Alaska and Yukon, as well as one team with members from Mexico, Ontario and Michigan.

Judging takes place on Saturday morning.

Contact Myles Dolphin at