John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
The 2012 International Poznań Ice Festival.
The chainsaw is not the most precise of tools. You wouldn't want to use it for removing a gallbladder. But put into the hands of a professional ice sculptor, the preferred weapon of backwoods demon slayers can create wintertime effigies whose ethereal majesty kicks a snowman's humble butt.
Recently, the most talented artisans in the ice-carving industry (yes, it's considered an industry) convened in the Polish city of Poznań for its yearly International Ice Sculpture Festival. The 2012 bash – the only one of its kind in Europe – was up in the air for a while, with Poznań's purse-string holders guessing this spring that it would be canceled due to "economical problems." But because winter in Poznań just wouldn't be the same without burly beardos turning ice boulders into reindeer and weird heads in the public square, officials decided to go ahead with it, anyway, staging the frigid event over two days earlier this month.
Below, find a few of the 2012 offerings from the world's best ice carvers. It's no surprise that the winners of the contest hailed from countries with bitter winters, with first-through-third places going to Poland/France, Japan and Russia, respectively. For more sculptures that can cool your cocktail, check out the City of Poznań's photo portal.
These shots are taken from the video below, produced by Kam Kam Visuals: