Breckenridge

The sound of frozen snow being chipped from 20 ton blocks fills the cold, crisp air from all corners of the Riverwalk Center, in the middle of Breckenridge, Colorado. More than a dozen teams of ice sculpting artisans, working in teams of four, are busy using hand driven implements of mass creation to form majestic 12 foot high sculptures.

The snow sculpture competition is opening the next morning and some of these dedicated masters of snow artisanry will be working all night, to finish their projects.

Competitors from New York State, Germany, France, Canada, Mexico and other countries head to Breckenridge to carve blocks of snow into pieces of art using only hand tools and great imaginations.

The actual sculpting is open to the public and its fascinating to watch as the competitors use ice cream scoops, potato scrapers, small saws and other hand tools. No power tools are permitted and the snow has to remain in its natural state without dyes, paints or colorings.

The next morning, we get up early to view the completed snow sculptures and then head for the slopes for a day of schussing downhill or looking for big air at the terrain park.  But first we stop at a local favorite for a hearty breakfast.

We’ve just been seated at Daylight Donuts when the front door opens and two people wearing ski masks enter.  As a New Yorker, I’m looking over my shoulder to see if the guy with the shotgun is coming in the back door, but Breckenridge is laid back and easy going and no one looks up from their giant chocolate chip pancakes or yummy sausage rolls in blankets.   .

“Dressed up” in Breckenridge means jeans and a fleece, whether you’re headed to a bar for drinks or the finest dining in town.  Millionaires and snow boarders share cocktails and great food at Modis, a hot new restaurant on Main Street.

Early morning or late at night, there is always a line at Crepes ala Cart, where super thin, hot, fresh crepes meet great conversation among new friends.  We stopped by there several times, fascinated by the range of crepes from vegetarian- fresh spinach to sweet-milk chocolate raspberry to dinner in a portable pocket-their Monte Cristo is a crowd pleaser.

Put Breckenridge on your list of places to visit, whether it’s the City of Breckenridge, to dine, shop or stay in or Breckenridge, the ski area, for some of the best snow, trails, lifts and runs I’ve ever experienced

Located at an altitude of almost 10,000 feet, make the O2 Lounge and Oxygen Bar your first stop as soon as you arrive.  Altitude sickness affects some visitors to Breckenridge so a visit here might minimize your chances of suffering shortness of breath, a pounding headache or an emergency room visit.

Surf the net, have a snack and sit for 45 minutes, hooked up to 90 percent pure oxygen, mixed with various aromatherapies, on their comfy sofas or at the bar.

There’s always a festival or event in town that will give you another reason to head to Breckenridge.  Whether it’s Ullr Fest, which celebrates the Norse god of snow, a wintry version of Mardi Gras or the International Snow Sculpture Championships, Breckenridge does fun right.

This year, the International Snow Sculpture Championships take place from January 26-February 7, 2010.   Artists sculpt from Tuesday, January 26 at 11:00 a.m. until Saturday, January 30 at 10:00 a.m.  Judging  starts at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, January 30 and sculptures will remain standing until the night of Sunday, February 7, 2010

Off the slopes and away from the sculpture contest,  you can try dog sledding  with Good Times Adventures or take a carriage ride on a hand crafted horse drawn carriage  through the woods at sunset over at Breckenridge Sleigh Rides.

Owners Paul and Cindy Hintgen encourage guests to pet and “talk” with their 2000 pound, eight foot tall Percheron and Belgian draft horses.   Originally bred to take knights into battle, these gentle giants have no trouble towing the sleigh for your 40 minute ride.

Snuggle up under a heavy blanket and watch the scenery as kids skate and play hockey on frozen lakes and the setting sun turns the snow covered peaks a bright orange.   The sleigh bells will tempt you to sing carols and the clear view of constellations offer a good time to plan for tomorrow’s fresh powder on the slopes.

If you go:

Breckenridge is an easy 90 mile drive from Denver and the environmentally friendly town and resort offer alternatives to renting a car and driving from the airport to the slopes.  You can take a shuttle from Denver airport to Breckenridge and ride the free bus in town that runs from early morning to just after midnight.

You can book your lodging, lifts and airport transport through Breckenridge website, www.gobreck.com or by phone at 877.593.5260

Dog sledding can be booked at GoodTimesAdventures.com and Breckenridge Sleigh Rides is at BreckSleighRides.com


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