Just in time for Christmas | VailDaily.com

Just in time for Christmas

Kate Stepan
NWS Sculpture PU 12-25 Preston Utley/putley@vaildaily.com Tim Linhart adds snow and water to his ice sculpture during the final stages of its completion Friday in Beaver Creek.

While most visitors to Beaver Creek Village hurry off the slopes and inside to catch apres ski specials, ice artists Tim Lindhart and Birgita Johansson are going to work. They put the finishing touches on “Love Doves,” a four-ton ice sculpture of eight birds taking flight, just in time for Christmas Friday evening.They have to work at night, Johansson explained while intermittently squirting the sculpture with a hose, because varying daytime temperatures thaw and freeze the ice. This could cause the layers to break during construction.”The thing is, you can’t rush this,” she said. “If you build too fast, it will break.”The pair has worked nights from about 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. since the beginning of December to build “Love Doves,” which towers about 15 feet high on the rocks above the ice rink in Beaver Creek Village.Lindhart described the location as “terrifying” to work with such a large quantity of ice, especially with a 30-foot drop to the sidewalk below on one side of the structure.

The pair employed a sculpting method for the piece, building out of slush and snow, rather than carving it from a large block. Lindhart said the sculpture is made from a base of wet snow gathered from around the Village with an ice “skin.””A lot of people think it started as a block,” said Lindhart, who has been sculpting ice in the area for about 13 years. “I tell them (jokingly), yeah, first you carve a block out of a glacier in Alaska.”Lindhart has sculpted a number of ice pieces, including a line of working musical instruments.The “Love Doves” form was particularly challenging to construct, he said, because of the large mass of ice that makes the spread wings of the top doves resting on a thinner middle part of the sculpture.Lindhart and Johansson had planned to finish the piece just in time for Christmas, addressing a holiday theme requested by Beaver Creek management with personal undertones.

“(The theme) went from ‘Peace Doves’ to ‘Love Doves’ because of us,” said Johansson, who moved to Vail from Sweden after meeting Lindhart last year.”We’re in love and I wanted to do something romantic,” Lindhart said. “Hopefully we’re going to do a lot of work together.”Lindhart and Johansson, who will return to Sweden in January to work on an “ice instrument” curriculum at a music university, believe the sculpture also incorporates a peace theme.”In these times of whatever weíve got going on now, I thought we should say something about peace,” Lindhart said. “Why not say it in Beaver Creek?”As for working in the area’s single digit temperatures of late?

“It’s part of the game,” Lindhart said, as hose water sprinkled on his jacket froze on contact.Lindhart got his start in the ice-sculpting world in the 1980s in Taos, New Mexico, after propositioning the owner of the ski resort to let him build pieces in exchange for a ski pass.”I was broke and looking for a ski pass in Taos,” he said. “Then I started thinking, this could be my lift ticket to the world. Ice is so versatile; if you can dream it, you can build it.”Vail, Colorado

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