PRINCEVILLE — Dale Radomski, Charlie Matsuda and Norimitsu Wada-Goode live and work on Kauai, but they know cold.
Recently, the trio represented Hawaii in the 44th annual International Snow Sculpture Contest in Sapporo, Japan, finishing second in their category for abstract sculpting.
Their sculpture, which finished third in the overall competition, is a representation of the modern form of today’s hula dancers looking up into the heavens and giving thanks for all those who have blessed the Hawaiian islands before them.
Team Hawaii finished third in the overall competition, which was a win for the sculptors, as they’ve been competing for nearly two decades.
Matsuda’s talent is what led the way, said Radomski. He also credits Matsuda for making the difference for the team over the last two years.
“Charlie is known for his fine detail and craftsmanship, and I think it has separated us from the competition in recent years,” he said.
The Aloha State, being the only non-country competitor, had some stiff competition in these contests, and that includes the United States team.
Originally, Hawaii’s team started out on Kauai.
Radomski was drafted by the Kauai Visitors Bureau in 1999 after the island was invited to compete in Sapporo. After winning an event in 2000, the KVB team resigned from competing and Radomski’s crew became Team Hawaii.
Matsuda has always had an affinity with art and sculpting since he was a teenager. He sees Team Hawaii as an unknown commodity in competitive ice sculpting, similar to the 1988 Jamaican Olympic bobsled team.
“Being in Kauai, you can’t fly over to cold climate and go through module simulation. We have to go off our instincts and technological communication,” he said.“It’s humbling when people are so surprised and impressed that a team from Hawaii, a place with such warm climate, can compete in an ice-sculpting competition.”
Not only did they compete, they thrived.
“It’s by the far the hardest piece we have ever created. The detail alone just to emulate the hula lady took countless hours,” Matsuda said. “To work for 12 hours a day for four and a half straight days, well, it’s very gratifying to place and represent Hawaii and our families.”
Matsuda, who can be seen any weekday morning at the St. Regis resort as a senior chef, still finds time to sculpt through the year, especially on holidays, although he’s not sure he’ll return to Japan next year.
“It’s a sculptor’s dream to compete,” he said. “If I go back, I go back. But I’m pretty content.”