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B.C. carvers represent the province in national ice sculpture competition

Sea to Sky's Ryan Cook and Comox's Kevin Lewis asking locals to vote for their Olympic hockey-themed sculpture.

What is hand-crafted, see-through, a work of art and destined to disappear? 

If you guessed an ice sculpture, you win the icy Canadian award. 

Britannia Beach carver Ryan Cook and fellow carver Kevin Lewis, of Comox, are currently representing B.C. in a national ice carving competition. 

They are hoping British Columbians will vote for them to beat out nine other teams — representing each province — from across the country. 

The three winning sculptures will be selected through this online voting by the public.

Last weekend, Cook and Lewis had 20 hours to complete a giant display of ice art that included an "Olympic and Paralympic" spirit theme for Canada's Winterlude Festival

Due to the pandemic, this 44th edition of the festival, run by the Department of Canadian Heritage, is being conducted remotely. 

Cook and Lewis crafted their entry in Fort St. John, where they are attending the annual High on Ice Festival. 

Their sculpture portrays the moment Sidney Crosby scored the winning overtime goal against the U.S. in the 2010 Olympics alongside Billy Bridges, a sledge hockey 2006 Paralympic Games Gold Medallist. 

 "I remember living in Los Angeles when Sidney Crosby scored that goal, and I was in a Canadian versus American Bar. I will never forget that moment. And just to be able to try to create it was pretty exciting," Cook said. 

He added that they had been in contact with Bridges, who was excited that he was sculpted. 

They haven't yet reached Crosby. 

Weather conditions can play a major role in ice sculpting, and Mother Nature was heard loud and clear about 12 hours into the 20-hour carve in this competition, leading Cook to stop the team's work.

"On Sunday, it was so dangerous that I actually had to stop Kevin and I from carving because we had made it to the point where we were flirting with wind and heat and ice high above our heads, which could lead to, you know, death," he said, adding for this competition they were given 15 blocks, each weighing about 300 pounds. 

"When it's blowing 75-kilometre-an-hour winds, and it is 5C, and there's a sculpture 11 feet over your head, you know, there's only one thing to do, and that is just be safe."

The warm weather was unusual for Fort St. John, Cook noted. Last year at this time, it felt like -50C with the windchill, the men both said. 

While they have worked together with ice as the medium several times, both artists are likely best known for their skills with wood.

Cook is known in Squamish for his Squamish Days Loggers Sports Festival appearances and carvings around town. Those outside of the Sea to Sky may recognize him for his roles on HGTV and Netflix USA series “Carver Kings“ and as the apprentice from the television series “Saw Dogs.” These days, he has his own custom carvings business called Saw Valley Carvings.

Lewis got his first chainsaw at 11 years old. He has been a logger since he was a teenager and has been chainsaw carving since 1996. He is known for his stunning and life-like pieces that can be seen at an outdoor gallery in Courtenay on Vancouver Island.

While it is definitely not as permanent — or as financially rewarding — as working with wood, there are advantages to switching to ice, the artists said.

"With ice, we are building our canvases. With wood, you work within the log, and in ice, we're able to basically create anything we want as big as we want," Cook said. 

Lewis said the pair, who have known each other about 10 years, work well together in competitions like this. This is their third ice project. 

"We're coming together with two different ideas on how to work things. Ryan's worked ice a lot more than I have. So I'm learning tons from him," Lewis said, adding that they often intuitively know how the other works and what he is thinking. 

"We can both play off each other. Read where the next person's gonna go."

For the rest of this year, the pair will be working together on an Indigenous learning playground in Port Hardy, they said. 

Voting in Canada's Winterlude Festival opens Feb. 11 and runs until Feb. 20. 

"I'm so proud to be from British Columbia that I want to show the rest of the country what it means to be from B.C. and how we all band together, especially in these times,” said Cook.  “Hopefully, that can kind of come across. And, you know, we're pumped about it. We put our heart and soul into it.”

Cast a vote for #TeamBC here:

Cook and Lewis will also be carving more ice pieces for display during Fort St. John's High on Ice Winter Festival from Feb. 18 to 21. Find out more about that event here. 

For more of Lewis' work, check out his Instagram: @unclekevincarves or YouTube channel: UncleKevinCarves. 

Cook can be found on Instagram:@ryancook.carvin on Facebook: @RyanCookCarvin and on YouTube: RyanCookCarvin.