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Russia Ice sculpting competition gets underway

Blocks of ice are being transformed into something special here in Perm.

The 7th Russian Cup in Snow and Ice Sculpture - the "Winter Vernissage" - is underway and participants are busy chipping away at their sub-zero canvas.

This is the first working day but already some designs are beginning to emerge.

Thirty participants from fourteen cities in Russia and Belarus are creating unique figures in the city centre.

Working in teams of two, competition participants will create fifteen sculptures.

One hundred cubic meters of natural ice from the pond water outside of the city have been sourced for the competition, and cut into blocks for the participants to work on.

The teams will have five days to complete the task.

The figures must be at least three meters high from the podium level.

Some have competed here before while for others this is their first time. But all have won other ice sculpture competitions - a prerequisite to be selected for the Perm contest.

Judges will evaluate expressiveness, originality of idea, and technical skill.

But with technical standards usually very high across all entries, it is often the other criteria that tip the balance when deciding who will win or not.

The theme for this year's event is Elusive Beauty, which gives maximum freedom of expression for sculptors.

The competition will run until 12 January, when the winners are announced, then the sculptures will go on show to the public from 14 January until 15 February.