The Wisconsin 1 snow sculpting team of Bob Lechtenberg, Joshua Jakubowski and Mike Austin pose with their first-place awards alongside their winning sculpture Saturday at U.S. National Snow Sculpting competition in Lake Geneva.

Local man helps team win national snow sculpting contest

By Ed Nadolski

Editor in Chief

For someone who was participating in just his second official competition, Mike Austin wasn’t necessarily expecting that he and his teammates would emerge as winners of the U.S. National Snow Sculpting competition.

But that’s just what happened for Austin, of Burlington, and fellow snow sculptors Joshua Jakubowski, Grafton, and Bob Lechtenberg, Hartland, who made up the Wisconsin 1 team at the competition held over three days last week during Lake Geneva’s Winterfest.

“I knew I would get to Lake Geneva to compete, but I didn’t think it would happen this quick,” Austin said Tuesday. “It’s a big honor and really humbling.”

The trio’s creation, dubbed “Your Move,” was not only judged best by a panel of fellow competitors, but it also took home the People’s Choice Award, which garners thousands of votes from visitors to Winterfest.

The team prevailed in a contest that included 14 other teams featuring the best snow sculptors from Alaska to Maine, according to Austin.


Under the sea

The winning sculpture featured a large octopus engaged in a game of chess with a crab. The creation included several chess pieces, some coral, a sea anemone and a seahorse all done in a fine detail that defies the medium.

“It starts out as an idea and the idea gets put on paper before it becomes a sculpture,” Austin said. “We’re very proud of the piece. It turned out better that we imagined in a lot of respects.”

The teams started at 10 a.m. Jan. 31 and had to be finished by 11 a.m. Saturday. Some of the teams worked through the night in frigid temperatures to finish their sculptures. That was the case with Jakubowski and Lechtenberg, who worked through the final night.

Austin said he left to get some sleep about 3 a.m. Saturday but returned around 6 a.m. to help the trio finish. “I wouldn’t be there without my teammates.”

“It was ideal conditions – a little cold,” he added. “(Which is) good for the snow, but bad for the artists.”

For the complete story and an additional photo from the contest, see the Feb. 8 edition of the Burlington Standard Press, which is available at newsstands throughout the area.