Despite being shorthanded and battling the worst weather he's ever competed in, Hastings resident Greg Schmotzer still found a way to ice the competition.
Schmotzer and Tom Klug, another Hastings resident, won the multi-block ice carving competition at the St. Paul Winter Carnival last weekend. It was Schmotzer's fifth win in six years. Another Hastings resident, Tom Schiller, came in second place.
Schmotzer and Klug's carving depicted a mountain lion perched on a rock formation, looking down on two rams as they were butting heads. It was aptly titled "The Loser is Lunch."
Schiller's carving was a huge dragon with its wings outstretched, and a man pointing a bow and arrow at it. The carving was titled "The Eternal Battle."
Schmotzer's win helped position him to do something next year no one has done in the history of the Winter Carnival - win the multi-block ice carving contest five years in a row.
Schmotzer's regular carving partner is busy making ice bars in Vancouver for the upcoming Winter Olympics, so Schmotzer recruited Klug to help out. The two work together at Treasure Island Resort and Casino.
Klug had seen Schmotzer do carvings at work, but this weekend was his first time actually picking up a tool and doing his own carving, and Schmotzer was teaching him on the fly.
"I was a little nervous to begin with because I've never played with ice before and Greg has done well at the Winter Carnival in the past," Klug said.
Schmotzer said Klug did excellent. He was able to pitch in by carving some of the rock formations in the sculpture, moving blocks around, and providing "comic relief," Klug said.
The competition began at 9 a.m., Thurs. Jan. 21, in Rice Park in St. Paul. Schmotzer and Klug worked all day until about 11:30 p.m. Thursday, and then went home to try to get some sleep. Klug said neither slept very well because their minds were preoccupied with finishing their carving.
At about 9:30 a.m. Friday, they were back at Rice Park, where they stayed for the next 24 hours, when the competition ended and judging began, at 9 a.m. Saturday.
Schmotzer said the rain and wind picked up on Friday evening and lasted pretty much the entire night. Saturday morning, the two words Schmotzer uttered when asked how he was doing were "soaked" and "tired."
In the single-block competition, Schmotzer worked alone and took second place with a carving of some crappies in weeds, called "Fishville." Schiller carved a motorcycle in the single-block competition but did not place.