JACKSON — The NH Sanctioned & Jackson Invitational Snow Sculpting Competition this weekend drew teams and spectators from all over New England. The NH-sanctioned winner was Team Odhner, a father and daughter team. Jefferson and Jenna Odhner will represent New Hampshire in the nationals at Lake Geneva, Wis., next year. The national event draws about a quarter of a million people.
Team Knight, made up of Jake Knight, Tim Wade and Levi Wark from Maine and Massachusetts, won the invitational competition.
Also competing was Team Shafner (Joe Shafner, Sandy Hall and Beth Phillips). Shafner and Hall will travel to the nationals. Team Hall was the NH-sanctioned winner of the 2012 competition in Jackson.
National snow-sculpting rules limit each state to one sanctioned event per state, said Kathleen Driscoll, executive director of the Jackson Area Chamber. The Jackson event is New Hampshire’s sanctioned event.
“We are working with Don Berg, director for the nationals and hope to come up with a game plan for next year. That could mean more than doubling the amount of teams that compete each year,” Driscoll said.
The Jackson competition began with David Rothstein, who competed in this year’s event, doing a snow sculpture for fun in the Jackson Village Park. The then-director of the Jackson Chamber, Bob Stevenson, asked if Rothstein would put together an event.
Rothstein knew about the sanctioned events and introduced the idea to Jackson. At first, only four or five teams competed, but the events draw more than a dozen each year.
This year, Rothstein had a videographer film the event and interview teams. He is seeking grant money to put together a documentary on the sport of snow sculpting.
Rothstein began snow sculpting in 1997 when he lived in Alaska.
“There’s not a lot else to do up there in the winter, and it was a challenge,” he said.
His mother was an artist, so there might be a bit of inherited talent, but he said he resisted anything artistic for a long time.
Rothstein, a lawyer from Massachusetts, said he was visiting in Jackson when he created that first sculpture.
His sculpting partner in this year’s event, Philip Thornton, is also from Massachusetts.
When asked what he likes about snow sculpting, he said, “who doesn’t like to make a snowman.”
Although other places may be having trouble getting sponsorship, Driscoll said many local businesses have stepped up for the Jackson event. Many local inns provide lodging. Several local shops provide items for welcome bags. Black Mountain, where the event is held, provides fresh blown snow, and Eastern Green puts the forms together for sculpting and also provides breakfast and lunch on Saturday and breakfast on Sunday.
The event culminates with an award banquet Sunday afternoon where the winners are announced.