From the snow-covered peaks of the Yukon to the white-capped Dolomites of Italy, Team Alaska is carving its way to glory.
The team traveled to San Candido, Italy in mid January to represent Skagway in the Dolomites Snow Sculpture Festival and took first and second place in two separate carvings.
Ken Graham, Pete Lucchetti and Michael Yee found themselves in the town of San Candido, surrounded by spectacular mountains and picturesque architecture with large blocks of snow in the middle of it all.
Sandwiched between two historic church steeples, the team had three days to carve an award winning sculpture, and they did.
For their first carve, the artists showcased a Native Alaskan seated next to his kayak on an ice flow, while a killer whale swam underneath. As always, the team focused on detail, carving in bubbles and sharp whale teeth, which were so convincing that local children couldn’t resist touching.
“That night we had to replace the teeth like two or three times,” Lucchetti said.
Townspeople served as the judges, walking through the streets from sculpture to sculpture. Team Alaska’s detail and time spent paid off, and the carvers took home a first place prize.
The competition featured 10 teams total, some from Russia, Italy, France and Mexico, all of whom Team Alaska bonded with.
“It was the only competition where we have carved with the same people in a row,” Lucchetti said. “It was the most sociable carve we’ve ever had.”
The teams stayed at the same hotel, skied on the same slopes and drank together in the town’s only bar.
But they weren’t finished after carving through blocks in San Candido. Fresh powder awaited them in San Vigilio a couple of hours away.
The second carve was closer to what the team was accustomed to – all of the blocks lined up in a row.
For their second competition, Team Alaska carved another split-view piece, with a gold-rush era man surfing a wave in his canoe, with an octopus swimming below.
With the people once again judging the competition, the team took home a second place win. Lucchetti owes both awards to great amounts of detail work, sanding and finessing of the pieces, and most of all, their ability to work together.
“Everything we did, we did once. We did it all efficiently,” he said. “As the detail carver, I barely sweat. Those guys have it down so well.”
With two wins under their belt, the team will carry on to Whitehorse on Feb. 23 to compete in the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous where they will sculpt a dragon attacking a ship. Using the Princess Sophia for inspiration, Lucchetti said they will create a sense of wonder for spectators, carving out the ship with snowy detail.
Directly from Whitehorse, the team will travel to Yellowknife, NWT to compete in the Snow King Winter Festival competition on March 4.
The team won the four-day Yellowknife carve last year, and hopes to do it again next month.
Ready for the challenge, they plan to carve a whimsical tugboat surrounded by feeding whales.
And then it’s time for the 30th Annual Buckwheat Ski Classic, where the team will bring to life famed Star Wars characters from Yoda to the infamous Darth Vader.
It’s been a busy winter for Team Alaska, but they’re making Skagway proud.
“I don’t know of another team that is quite like us to have this type of talent together,” Lucchetti said.