Changes throughout the arena will be as noticeable as its new name, Canada Hockey Place, and one attraction in particular is sure to generate as much buzz as who quarterbacks Team Canada’s top power play unit.
A life-size retro-futurist metal sculpture of a hockey player, entitled Hockey Player, will be on display at gate 3 during the Games with its permanent home at GM Place yet to be determined.
The steel statue is such a breathtaking piece that, like Roberto Luongo highway robbery, words simply cannot depict its beauty.
Standing more than 6-feet tall and weighing roughly 450 pounds (including the base), the sculpture was created off a sketch from more than 800 pieces of steel, 100 in the face alone, it comes apart into two pieces for “easy” transport and took eight painstaking months to build.
The genius/madman behind this epic work of art is Cory Fuhr, a 38-year-old self-taught metal sculptor from Vernon whose larger-than-life work has been featured throughout North America for the past 13 years.
With a distinct eye for the human form and a style unlike what can be found in the world of metal sculpting, Fuhr has established himself as a one-of-a-kind artisan. Combine that with the unique barn Fuhr works out of on an organic onion farm outside of Vernon, a barn he calls the “disaster zone,” which was built by his grandfather, a watchmaker, and the only word that comes to mind is original.
Original seems fitting in this case as his latest masterpiece, one that will draw as many camera flashes as the Olympic countdown clock prior to liftoff, was his first stab at creating a hockey player. He’s tackled a speed skater, a dancer, a diva, a hand and a leg, among other things, but never a rugged symbol of Canada’s game.
“When you get into something like hockey, it’s a bit of a study,” admitted Fuhr. “I wanted the stick to be on the right and I originally saw it in my head a certain way, then I framed it up and realized it was set up left-handed and I had to do some research to see how common that is.”
Fuhr is the first to admit that when he starts working on a project, he goes into his own world and nothing else matters. Understanding that, he’s a hockey fan, just not one with a wealth of knowledge for the sport.
Turns out Fuhr’s neighbours are billeting a pair of Californians playing for the Vernon Vipers of the BCHL this season, forward Cory Kane and defenceman Steve Weinstein, so when he ran into a problem, he’d summon his muses.
“They put on gear and posed in a lot of different stances for me,” laughed Fuhr. “They would pop down every week or so and hum and haw over the piece with me and it was nice to have their direct input.”
A perfectionist at heart, Fuhr’s hockey player became a labour of love, like every piece of work he creates, and this led to constant fidgeting and movement of pieces. Almost every day he’d cut out a part and weld it somewhere new, even if it was just moved a fraction of an inch, until the flow was finally right.
“When it’s done, I know it’s done because it becomes more than the sum of the parts, it becomes a moving, fast-looking form,” added Fuhr.
When the process was complete, a hockey player like no other, one gliding on its left skate, head up and stick ready to take a pass or blast a shot; one with as much articulate detail in the head and stomach as a human – but with more gears; one that will amaze and re-amaze time after time, emerged, along with Fuhr’s appreciation for hockey.
“The funny thing is that this process has made me respect the game so much more. One of the things about hockey, which I didn’t realize, is that it’s a real gladiator sport, but the rink is small and the game is so fast. You have to be so quick mentally to play it and the more I looked at that and the gear and the structure, the physical structure of the sport, the less random I thought it was.
“My respect level for the game went up a lot. I watched hockey before, but now I totally think differently about the whole sport and see it in a whole new way.”
Those fortunate enough to score a hockey ticket for one of the games at Canada Hockey Place will be saying the same thing in a few short days, but about Fuhr’s Hockey Player.
It’s going to make everyone see art in a whole new way.