A cold run of weather forecasted for the weekend might not be ideal for some Winnipeggers, but it’s good news for the crew chipping away at the ice sculptures at The Forks.
“I was quite nervous. By Tuesday, it was plus three and the sun was shining directly on the ice. It gets quite scary,” said Andy Zhao, the president of the Canadian Ice Festival Inc.
The warm weather caused a few road blocks for the festival; slabs of ice, weighing about 500 pounds (227 kilograms) each, were originally going to be cut out of the Red River. Due to thin ice conditions, the slabs had to be cut and hauled from Bird’s Hill Provincial Park, semi-load by semi-load. Thanks to Taras Gravel Supplies, about 1,000 blocks of ice are already at The Forks, and Zhao said a few thousand more are on the way.
The warm weather also had the crew throwing tarps over the sculptures to protect them from the sun. An expected dip in temperatures is more than welcomed by Zhao and his crew of 40 ice sculptors from China.
"They complained; they said it was too warm, and I said, 'no it's not warm, this is not normal',” said Zhao, who has lived in Winnipeg for nine years.
“This morning the first thing I told them was, 'See? it's cold'," he said.
The ice sculptors have already carved out beautiful sculptures of animals, igloos and buildings.
Zhao says the combination of cold temperatures and sun makes for crystal clear and glistening ice.
The Canadian Icetival is set to officially open on Jan. 25. Tickets are $25 each.