Clutching a screwdriver in a frozen fist, Timm Paxton crouched over a block off ice, meticulously craving a snowflake in a block of ice.
"I've lost all sensation altogether," Paxton said. "I just keep going." His cohort Jed Smith added, "It's all about art at this point."
Paxton and Smith were two of hundreds of University of Utah students, employees and faculty who participated in U Winterfest 2002 Snow Daze on Wednesday on the Union patio.
The activities ranged from ice sculpting to snowshoe relay races to dressing partners in winter apparel. Snow Daze is the third activity that the U. has put together to help students get excited about the Games. Previous ones included "Taste of the Olympics," where students got a chance to have Olympic Village chefs cook for them, and an Olympic Village tour.
Ann Bardsley, U. spokeswoman, said the university wanted to get students excited about the Olympics happening in their back yard. She also said that for many students, programs through the U. would be a way for students to enjoy the Games on a budget.
"Let's face it. A lot of students can't afford to go to the Games. This is a way for students to become involved," Bardsley said.
To encourage students to come out and sculpt on Wednesday, prizes were offered ranging from fleece vests to DVD players to Olympic Medal Plaza tickets.
The ice sculptures ranged from the World Trade Center with the Olympic rings in the middle to the Olympic flame on top of the Utah mountains.
"We were going for more of a torch, but as we went along, it kind of evolved into a flame," said student Anna West as she deftly dabbed another streak of scarlet dye to the ice flame. "The vision changed when we realized how hard the ice was."
Contestants were not allowed to use any power tools, and for some, that proved harder than anticipated.
"It's immensely more difficult without a chain saw. I would have been done hours ago," Paxton said, chipping away at his block of ice.
The U. is holding events throughout February for students, staff and faculty to help increase involvement and show appreciation for the Games.