Winning photo from Yukon hair freezing contest goes global

The contest has been running for years, but this year's winning submission has attracted attention like never before.

Takhini Hot Pools' contest winner says frozen hairstyle took half an hour to sculpt

The winning photo from the annual hair freezing contest at Takhini Hot Pools in Yukon is receiving international attention. 

Owner Andrew Umbrich says the contest for photos of hot springs users' frozen hair has been running for years, but he says 2015 was a standout. 

"Our winners really surprised us with their amazing pictures and video," he says. 

Umbrich says the winning picture has already been shared more than 400 times on Facebook. Wednesday morning he woke up to emails from media outlets in Germany and the United Kingdom wanting permission to use it.

Miléna Georgeault and her winning teammates also posted a video on Facebook. Georgeault says she was surprised to see that has more than 18,000 views.

The Yukoner worked with her partner Maxime Gouyou Beauchamps and their friend Fanny Caritte, who was visiting from France, to create their winning 'dos. 

"We put a lot of work into our hair," says Georgeault.

She says her frozen hairstyle took about half an hour to sculpt.

Umbrich thinks part of the contest's success is due to its uniqueness. 

"We're never heard of anyone ever doing it anywhere else," he says, noting the contest was started by the previous owners of the hot pools.

Umbrich said he thinks Yukon's climate creates the right combination of steam coming off the water and cold temperatures to freeze hair nicely. 

The contest is held in association with the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous festival, but Umbrich says he runs the contest the entire month of February to account for unpredictable temperatures.

He says -20C works for hair sculpting, but -30C is ideal. 

"It just takes 10 minutes to a half hour to make a pretty incredible picture," he says. 

One strategy, according to Umbrich, is to lay the hair on the edge of the pool to freeze.

"As it freezes, they'll slowly fashion it or sculpt it into something," he says. "Once it's frozen it becomes a lot easier to move and shape."

Umbrich says about 20 people entered the contest this year. With all the attention, next year's participation might be higher and so might be the prize. 

This year's winners took home $150 but Umbrich is talking about increasing the payout in 2016.