​Wielding chainsaws to carve art from ice

Ice carving is part brute force, and part delicate dance. Portions of the sculptures are set in place with nothing more than water -- "Arctic glue," they call it. It instantly freezes the pieces together, as long as the air is cold enough.

The downside, of course, is that the results of all this hard work will eventually melt away.

Alaska native Mark Chapin looks at that reality philosophically.

"It will go back into the ground and eventually get back into the water source. You're essentially carving from previous ice carvings," he said.

All the carvings were going well, until, that is, the clouds rolled in, and the temperatures crept above freezing.

"I'm a little frustrated right now," said Heather, "mainly because of the weather."

"So all this hard work is basically one big pile of slush," said Reverend Butter.

His pirate ship was sinking in its own water. "You work with what you've got and in the end you gotta be proud of what you did, so, we are."

Junichi's dragon almost seemed to be crying -- and so was Junichi. 'The water was dripping off the sculpture," he said.

The judges even pushed back the finish to give the artists time to make adjustments.

Every team used every minute right up until the final horn.

The race was over, drips or no drips.

But no one really seemed to notice; crowds poured in to capture the finished works before they melted any more, and the judges finally had their say.

The Hulk and his superhero accomplices earned Steve and Heather Brice a spot on the podium.

Buddy Rasmussen and Reverend Butter's pirate ship sailed its way into second place.

But the one who carved out the top spot was, once again, Junichi Nakamura. Maybe all that smoking like a dragon paid off.

As the crowds thinned, the air once again cooled. You could almost hear the ice sculptures themselves sigh with relief. Their integrity (and the artists' reputations) were safe -- at least until the sun comes out.

GALLERY: World Ice Art Championships 2015


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