Back in the 1980s, young Suguru Kanbayashi used to watch his father, one of the original ice carvers for Winterlude, at work.
“I grew up with it,” said Kanbayashi. “I picked it up when I was a teenager and haven’t looked back since.”
Like his father, Kanbayashi showed a talent for the art, entering his first Winterlude competition 14 years ago.
Now a staple at the Winterlude International Ice Carving Competition, the 31-year-old Ottawa resident was creating one of three massive pieces at Confederation Park yesterday.
The subject? A pair of love-struck Ogopogo, a lake monster reported to live in B.C.’s Okanagan Lake, to go with the theme of this year’s competition, Myths and Legends.
“For us, doing a piece along the theme of mythical creatures and stuff like that is right up our alley. We want to carve cool stuff like dragons and monsters and stuff that really makes an impact,” said Kanbayashi, a computer programmer for Library and Archives Canada. The sculpture will take the team three eight-hour days to finish.
One of Kanbayashi’s teammates, Calgary chef Scott Harrison, has been a carver for nine years, getting his start at Chateau Lake Louise.
This is his ninth Winterlude competition, which he calls “camp for carvers.”
“It’s a real brotherhood,” he said.
This year’s competition will feature 13 teams and 13 solo carvers representing 11 countries, said Marie-Sylvie Perusse, National Capital Commission programming co-ordinator for Confederation Park during Winterlude.
The weather leading up to the first weekend of Winterlude has been perfect for the ice carvings, Perusse said.
Aside from the competition, Confederation Park will feature the Rogers Crystal Garden Stage with music, a live carving demonstration with a Guinness World Record holder for fastest carver and an event to teach the public how to carve ice.