If you were looking forward to the international flavour of this year’s Long John Jamboree ice carving contest, things just got a little less tasty.
Organizers say Malaysian and Mongolian teams have had to drop out after encountering “complications getting entry visas in time to come to Canada”.
This year would have marked the ice carving debut for both nations in Yellowknife.
Japan’s Junichi Nakamura has, however, successfully made the trip and is now set to become the Jamboree’s first overseas ice carver.
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Nakamura is a two-time winner of ice carving contests held alongside sporting events at the Olympic Games.
He will line up against four US teams – including defending champions Dean Murray and Chris Foltz – in what is now a 10-team field, after two other North American teams dropped out for personal reasons.
Fort Simpson’s Randy Sibbeston and John Sabourin of Yellowknife return for the fourth straight year.
Despite late withdrawals, festival executive director Nancy MacNeill believes the Inspired Ice carving championship, backed by mining company De Beers, is gaining international recognition.
“We’re already kind-of getting there,” MacNeill told Moose FM.
“We’re starting to hear things about how our ice is so much nicer than Fairbanks’ ice. That’s a big deal. Fairbanks has really good ice and our ice, this year, is better than Fairbanks’ ice.
“Inspired Ice has just taken on such momentum and it’s turning into its own phenomenon. We’re one of the most popular ‘destination’ ice carving championships in the world.
“We already have applicants who weren’t able to make it this year, who are asking us to please consider them for the 2016 championship.”