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Ice-Sculpting Champion Carves Up Competition

Ice-Carving Champion Competes in Mostly Male-Dominated Art Form
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To say winter gets really cold in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul in the midwestern, American state of Minnesota is an understatement.

On this day, with temperatures hovering at around minus two or three degrees Celsius, it's enough to make most people run and hide some place warm.

But then Deneena Hughes isn't like most people.

She grew up in Canada — America's neighbor to the North — so cold weather isn't the worst thing in the world for her.

In fact, it's part of her existence.

She and her husband immigrated to Minnesota in 1996. They have been competitive ice carvers since.

"I've been creative my whole life, and this is just another creative outlet for me," she says.

Deneena carving ice
Deneena carving ice

Hughes and her husband have five children. She's a mom making art out of 136-kilogram blocks of ice in a medium dominated by men. When she started carving ice sculptures at the Winter Carnival in St. Paul in the 1990s, she was the only woman competing.

Now there are a few others who have joined the artisans continuing a tradition of ice sculpting here that dates to 1886, the year of Saint Paul's first ice carnival.

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    Arash Arabasadi

    Arash Arabasadi is an award-winning multimedia journalist with a decade of experience shooting, producing, writing and editing. He has reported from conflicts in Iraq, Egypt, the Persian Gulf and Ukraine, as well as domestically in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland. Arash has also been a guest lecturer at Howard University, Hampton University, Georgetown University, and his alma mater, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife Ashley and their two dogs.