The banks of the Novosibirsk Reservoir are a hive of activity. Competing teams are busy, busy, busy, constructing more than 100 igloos and striving for top prize. The organizers of this contest say the idea of igloo building is simple.
“The technology is basic. It means building a spiral, where each block is based on the previous one, and we end up with a top that acts as a spacer for the structure,” says Dmitry Patsay, one of the competition organizers.
The idea behind an igloo might be simple. But the building of a proper igloo is not. Competitor Ivan Neelov points out, “You need to raise the floor level a bit, so that there is a way out for the gases we exhale, and it should be small inside. The bigger the room the colder it is.”
Competitors are given just two and a half hours to build their snow huts. Blocks must be sawn from dense snow. Not just any snow will do. “Suitable snow means it is pressed by wind, the so-called firn wind, when the wind is blowing downward for a long time and the grains of snow are rolled off, pressed, and a thick crust is formed,” according to Vyacheslav Goryunov.
Getting the shape right is tricky, and making blocks fit snugly with no gaps takes practice. Judges check for things like that, as well as the floor size and ceiling height of each igloo.
Tatyana Goretskaya is part of the winning team for the second year running. But she wasn’t always a top contender. “It is quite difficult. You need to know the technology of construction,” she says.
“During the first year we had small flaws, but for the second and third year, it all went fine, without flaws, without a single crack.”
This year, prizes are given in 14 categories including most beautiful, biggest, and most correctly built igloo.
Everyone seems to be having fun. But the igloo experts want to remind us that these domed structures can also be quite useful—especially in an emergency, where there is nothing else around to build a shelter from.
When properly constructed, an igloo can hold the weight of a polar bear and be much warmer inside than the weather outside. So pay attention. You might want to build an igloo one day. Although we hope it’s just for fun!
(Teams work hard during the two-and-one-half-hour igloo-building contest. AP Photos)