The 80-odd people taking part in the Ice Painting Challenge on New Year's Eve faced an unplanned challenge from the first snowstorm of winter.
"It was a white-knuckle day in terms of the weather," said Caitlin Hicks, organizer of the first-ever ice painting event at the Sunshine Coast Arena.
Early in the morning, many participants were snowed in at their homes. Members of the team Not Just Yellow Snow tried to travel from Gibsons by bus, only to have the bus end up in a ditch. Even the organizers, Hicks and her husband Gordon Halloran, the artist who originated the concept of ice painting, weren't sure they would make it through the storm to the arena.
In the end, all 10 teams and more than 300 spectators turned out to watch the mock-Olympic event and skate on the ice paintings to the music of the Coast String Fiddlers.
"It was a really good event. People just wanted to get out there and skate," said Hicks. "Technical things didn't go as well as they might have, but the spirit of the community was definitely there."
The teams worked from dawn through mid-afternoon to create the massive ice paintings under Halloran's instruction. Then came the crucial step of sealing the fresh paintings with a coat of clear ice, ready for skating that night.
"It really stretched our resources," said Halloran. "Everything was pushed to its max the staff at the rink were incredibly helpful."
The urgency to complete the paintings in time to allow complete freezing, plus the logistical problems created by the snow storm, brought out the best in people, said Halloran.
"It just put everybody in the mood. It was a festival atmosphere," said Halloran. "People did such good work. The paintings were so much better than people expected."
The Tsunami team's painting of a giant wave won the award as the audience favourite.
The on-ice performances suffered from technical difficulties with the sound system and views obstructed by safety netting. Because the arena is usually so busy, the Ice Painting Challenge didn't have access to the arena until the day of the event. The result, said Halloran, was that the show often looked like a rehearsal.
"There were a lot of comic moments for me," he said.
Halloran said one unexpectedly funny effect was the sound of the crowd, all wearing gloves and mittens in the chilly arena, applauding enthusiastically yet producing only a muffled tapping sound.
As Halloran and Hicks recuperated from their efforts, they were already hearing requests to do it again next year."People enjoyed it so much," said Hicks, adding the event would likely take a different form next time.