'Balance' stays upright to win Inspired Ice contest

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The Long John Jamboree boasted a record ice carving score even as events took place at a makeshift venue inside Yellowknife's fieldhouse parking lot.

De Beers, sponsors of Inspired Ice carving contest, said brothers Ross and Tony Baisas took the title with an unprecedented score of 99.1 from the judges.

Balance, the winning sculpture in the 2019 De Beers Inspired Ice carving contest
Balance, the winning sculpture in the 2019 De Beers Inspired Ice carving contest. Terry Kruger/De Beers

The Canadians' work, entitled Balance, topped a field of seven teams. American duo Aaron Costic and Matt Stoddart placed second.

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After a March heatwave disrupted the Jamboree's plans to hold the three-day festival on the ice of Yellowknife Bay, the event still attracted a solid weekend crowd at its backup parking lot venue.

Stallholders at the Jamboree estimated the festival was bringing in around 80 percent of its usual on-ice crowd from other years, with dust from the parking lot surface said to be the main issue associated with the switch.

Temperatures hovered around the freezing point on the weekend, allowing Inspired Ice to go ahead -- though several sculptures struggled to last through the entire three days in relatively warm conditions.

Balance, the winning carving, depicted a female figure holding a balance scale in one hand and a sword in the other. The sculpture won both the judges' top prize and the people's choice award, voted for by Jamboree attendees.

"You really have to be a master sculptor, a master of the craft, to be able to bring fabric to the table, to bring hair to the table,” said Ken Diederich, the lead judge, describing elements of fine detail in the winning design.

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"[The sculpture] invokes emotion, you can see the eyes, you can see how the jaw comes together. Every part of it looks so real," said Diederich, from Cleveland, Ohio. "It's amazing, spot on."

Check out Cabin Radio's photos from the Jamboree weekend below.

With files from James O'Connor

Eleanor Goldenegg enjoys the fruits — or sweets — of her success in rolling up maple sugar on a stick at the Cabane a Sucre over the weekend at the Long John Jamboree. James O'Connor/Cabin Radio
Another view of Little Nap before the sculpture's untimely demise. James O'Connor/Cabin Radio
Balance, which won the contest, is worked on by a Montreal/Ottawa team of brothers. James O'Connor/Cabin Radio

Robbie Craig, right, talks to residents inside an arts tent at the Jamboree. James O'Connor/Cabin Radio