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A top 10 finish for ice carvers
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MONROE - Ice carver Zoli Akacsos, Monroe, and his teammates didn't win the 2009 Ice Alaska World Ice Art Championship, but they did place in the top 10 of the multi-block classic. The realistic division has 17 entries.

"They say nobody wins it the first time," Akacsos said during a phone interview Monday.

"They were amazed by our performance and our design - they said it was one of the best designs - but we did not know what the judges were looking for, how to finish it," he said.

The ice sculpture featured an American Indian woman suspended in wisps of ice swirling around her, surrounded by three rearing horses, and two totem poles flanking them.

Akacsos, Chris Swarbrick, Greg Schmotzer and Bob "Buzzsaw" Halverson were happy to be in the top 10, considering they were up against experienced champion teams like the one from Japan which includes World Ice Art Championship Junichi Nakamura.

Nakamura's "White Fang" won first place in the realistic division.

Akacsos was excited to watch Nakamura work.

"They say he pushes the limits of the ice," Akacsos said.

Akacsos said his team worked every day on its sculpture, and on Thursday, the last night before judging, they worked all night. They didn't get to do anything else during the week.

"No, nothing but go back to our rooms and have one beer. We were too lazy to get up for another," he laughed.

Team members still were in Alaska on Monday, having missed their flight back home.

"But it wasn't our fault," Akacsos said. The bus to the airport was 10 minutes late.

The men will spend another two days in Fairbanks and may get a chance to see something besides ice.

The four men were competitors and took all the top places in the multi-block division at the 2009 St. Paul Winter Carnival Jan. 22-25. Between them, they took first-, second- and third-place, carvers' choice and people's choice.

Photos of the Ice Alaska entries and their place awards can be found at www.icealaska. Click on the link "2009 multi-block photos" and follow the drop-down list for cam or still photos.