ITHACA, N.Y. — A Guinness World Record title holder who has won more than 200 ice carving competitions is vying for a what he hopes will be his third win at the Ithaca Ice Festival carving competition this weekend.
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Despite the predicted warm weather, Rich Daly said he feels prepared to compete to earn the title of Ithaca’s Ice War Champion. He will be competing against eight other nationally recognized ice carvers for the $9,000 prize.
Among his winnings are five Gold Medals at the US National Ice Carving Championships and a Guinness World Record title earned in 2013 by carving 60 ice sculptures in two hours, 52 minutes and 12 seconds, becoming the fastest ice carver in the world.
This weekend, there will be three levels to this weekend’s ice carving competition: a round of speed-carving, a carve-and-deliver competition, and a two-block showpiece. Daly said that he is anticipating the carve-and-deliver round to be the most challenging. On Friday night, all of the competitors will draw a different secret location in Ithaca. The next day, they will have to build a sculpture and deliver it to their locations in three hours.
The already difficult task of assembly will be even more challenging because of Ithaca’s predicted high temperatures.
“The hardest part will be moving an ice carving that’s in different sections and trying to piece them together in warm weather. I’ve definitely had to modify my former plan,” Daly said.
With the unseasonably warm weather, Daly said that this year’s competition will be more challenging than most and that it could be anyone’s game. Still, he said he feels confident with his planned pieces.
Daly said that all of the planning, freezing temperatures and long hours pay off when he gets to see people’s reactions to his work.
“Everything I make is temporary. It’s a beautiful artform that magically disappears. So seeing people in awe over what you made, even for a short time, really makes all of the hard work worthwhile,” Daly said.
Daly, who owns an ice carving business on Long Island called Ice Melodies, Inc., has been in the business of ice carving for the past 14 years. He still remembers the first ice sculpture he ever made: an eagle, although he jokingly admitted that it was unrecognizable to anyone besides himself.
“I didn’t have an artistic training before I started ice carving. I think I played with Playdoh as a kid, but that’s about it,” Daly said.
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