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Curlers, fans, icemakers mourn passing of Shorty Jenkins

One of Canadian curling’s iconic characters has passed away.

Longtime Canadian Curling Association icemaker Clarence (Shorty) Jenkins, known equally for the swingy ice that he produced and the pink hat he wore while doing it, died on Thursday after a lengthy illness. He was 77.

Shorty Jenkins passed away on Thursday at the age of 77. (Photo, courtesy AMJ Campbell Shorty Jenkins Classic)

Jenkins was one of the first icemakers to start experimenting with water, scraping patterns and rocks, always in search of a little more crowd-pleasing swing in the ice.

“I don’t think there’s a doubt that he’s the most influential icemaker ever,” said longtime Canadian Curling Association ice technician Dave Merklinger, who got his start in the business working alongside Jenkins at the CFB Trenton club in Ontario. “He reinvented the game of curling by making the ice entertaining, by making it consistent to allow curlers to make shot after shot after shot and play with confidence.”

In addition to the work he did on the ice — he was the head icemaker for various national and Ontario championships, in addition to countless bonspiels — Jenkins was eager to share his knowledge with his peers. He authored a number of instructional manuals on the craft of making ice for the Canadian Curling Association and Ontario Curling Association.

As well, in his honour, one of the first annual events on the World Curling Tour was named after him — the AMJ Campbell Shorty Jenkins Classic in September in Brockville, Ont.

Some of  Canada’s top curlers were Tweeting their condolences on Thursday:

Ryan Fry (@ryanfry79): “RIP – Shorty Jenkins. Thank you for your amazing contribution to the sport we all love. You’re a legend!!!!”

Team Sherry Middaugh (@slider1_): “Condolences to @curliejo and the Jenkins family. We lost a legend #shortyjenkins today.”

Mark Nichols (@MarkNichols_NL): “RIP Shorty Jenkins. Master Ice Maker, Loved the game. #kingofswing #legend”

Wayne Middaugh (@waynemiddaugh): “My icemaking mentor years ahead of his time. RIP Shorty, every time I see a rock curl I think of you. #kingofswing”

Funeral arrangements are pending.