YK duo wins people’s choice at Swedish snow carving contest

Last modified: January 31, 2022 at 10:34pm

Two Yellowknifers are bringing home the people’s choice award from a snow carving contest in Sweden’s northernmost town.  

Niki Mckenzie and Kris Schlagintweit made up one of six teams selected to compete at the Kiruna Snow Festival’s international snow sculpture competition this month. The pair was awarded one of two prizes at the event following judging this weekend, with around 400 people casting a vote for their favourite sculpture. 

“We’re coming down from the amazing high that we experienced up in Kiruna,” Schlagintweit told Cabin Radio from Stockholm on Monday. 


“It was good, kind-of unexpected,” Mckenzie said of the win. “It was pretty nice to feel like we were contenders in an international competition when we’ve only ever carved snow in little old Yellowknife.”

Niki Mckenzie, left, and Kris Schlagintweit, show off their win in a submitted photo.

Schlagintweit and Mckenzie, who is originally from New Zealand, were part of the team that won second place at last year’s snow carving competition at Yellowknife’s Snowcastle for their sculpture of a Taniwha, a supernatural Māori water being. 

At the Kiruna festival, the duo created a sculpture of the Māori goddess Whaitiri. Before heading to Sweden, they practiced on Yellowknife Bay

While the pair spent long days completing their sculpture in Kiruna, Schlagintweit said they were able to connect with other snow carvers from around the world. 

“It was just fantastic to know that there’s this whole culture out there.”


McKenzie said on their final day in Kiruna, they were able to explore the town, and check out some of the other events at the festival like dog sledding, horse rides, and snow blower races. 

As for what’s next for the pair, Mckenzie said they’ve already been invited to travel several places with their snow carving skills. Mckenzie said she’s particularly interested in putting in a bid to design one of the bedrooms at Sweden’s famous ice hotel.