Howland brothers to compete in national snow sculpting contest

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CARTHAGE — Local competitors in last year’s state Snow Sculpting Championship in Lake Placid will be heading to the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Competition.

Brothers Joshua J. and Derrick M. Howland — who won the People’s Choice and Artists’ Choice awards and placed second at last February’s competition with uncle Louis A. “Little Lou” Howland for their creation, “Into the Wild” — will be heading to Lake Geneva, Wis., for nationals Jan. 30 to Feb. 3. While they didn’t win states last year with their entry — a sculpture depicting a Native American and American bald eagle in honor of the younger Howlands’ late father, Edmond “Tink” Howland, an award-winning snow sculptor — members of Serge Sigouin’s team, which did win, were unable to compete at this year’s nationals. He then reached out to the Howlands to join him and they readily accepted the invitation.

“I was ecstatic, really pumped,” said Joshua Howland, who works in the medical imagining department at Carthage Area Hospital. “I had tried to find if we could go but now we are.”

“Although it is a collaboration of two teams, I feel good about it and am excited to be going to compete against national winners,” said Derrick Howland, who is a salesman for Caskinette Ford.

Mr. Sigouin, who resides in Evans Mills, said he was pleased the Howlands accepted his invitation.

“I know their capabilities — I saw what they can do,” he said. “I wanted to give them a chance to go further, to nationals this year and maybe then internationals the next year.”

Mr. Sigouin started snow sculpting in 2007.

“I started right on top,” he said.

Along with Jerry S. Merrill of Rodman and Klaus Ebeling of Adams Center — who Mr. Sigouin described as the “father of snow sculpting,” Mr. Sigouin won the national competition that first year. He went on to win several national and international competitions.

“I liked to carve and draw since I was a little kid,” said the native of Quebec, Canada. “I was always very good at it.” The team will be sculpting a collaborative design of an eagle picking up a salmon out of the water. Mr. Sigouin’s original design included an eagle and a deer but, after working with the Howlands, changed it to increase the negative space, which counts in the scoring.

“It’s realistic but abstract a little bit,” said Mr. Sigouin, who is the team captain. “We’re trying to get as many points as possible.”

Judges base their decision on creativity, composition, emotion, finish, meaning, proportion, precision and presentation. The artists must submit their design and a model to the committee one month prior to the competition.

Mr. Sigouin said he has made special tools specifically for this design in order to make the sculpture “better, faster and with more detail.”

Joshua Howland described one of the hand tools as resembling a cheese grater, which will be used for fine detail work.

“We’re experienced so we can do it fast,” said Mr. Sigouin, noting their creation will depend on the weather conditions. “If it’s too warm we can’t carve during the day.”

The teams have about three days to complete the sculpture.

Joshua Howland said they received a block placement right next to the lake, therefore, they will have to take into consideration the effect of the wind.

“We’re looking to dethrone the Wisconsin team, which has won four times,” said Joshua Howland.

“We want to give it our best shot,” said Derrick Howland. “I’d be happy to just place. We have a lot of fun doing it. To watch a block become what you’ve envisioned is pretty exciting.”

Although the team has $1,000 prize money from state competition to defray costs, they are seeking sponsors to help in the trip to Wisconsin. Those interested in contributing may send donations to Mr. Sigouin, 29133 State Route 37, Evans Mills N.Y. 13637.

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