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Giant ice cube challenge Award-winning Swiss sculpture breaks the ice in China

Marc Brügger and Berta Shortiss are two of the best snow sculptors in the world. This gallery demonstrates their stunning work and that of fellow participants at the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival in northeast China, the largest winter festival in the world.

The two Swiss have taken part in international competitions for more than 15 years, but their dream was always to show what they could do at Harbin. They were rejected many times, but finally a design by Shortiss was accepted.

“It went down so well that we were invited to Harbin for the first time,” Brügger told the Swiss freesheet 20 Minuten on Friday.

Not only was travel and accommodation paid for, but their sculpture was honoured with an “Outstanding Award”. What’s more, Brügger and Shortiss were one of the few teams who dared make an abstract work of art – most of the other participants created figurative sculptures.

They had three-and-a-half days to sculpt a work from an (enormous) ice cube – in temperatures of minus 33 degrees Celsius.

Brügger’s day job mostly involves grave stones. “Working with snow is different – it’s more carving than hewing,” he said. “What’s more, you can work on a greater scale than with stone.”

The Swiss are now back home, but their sculpture will stay in Harbin until March.

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