Making Great Ice: Why doesn’t my club have championship ice as seen on TV?

It’s that time of the year when we start to see lots of curling on TV. For curling fans, it’s exciting to watch. But for club ice makers, it’s a nightmare.

CCA Chief Ice Technician Jamie Bourassa (left) with Hans Wuthrich, maintaining the championship ice at the 2012 Tim Hortons Brier (Photo CCA/Michael Burns)

Why? Because I’m sure every ice tech hears the same thing from the curlers at his club. “How come our ice can’t curl like that?” “Why isn’t our speed that quick?” Well, let me answer all those club ice critics and put things in perspective. At a televised curling event we will have upwards of six people helping prepare the ice for each draw. That entails scraping, pebbling, nipping and dragging for every draw. At the club level, your ice should be scraped every two or three draws. The longer you go between scraping, the heavier your ice will get as the pebble builds up. Also you have a greater chance of developing runs through pebbling. Yes, a club could achieve ice close to the ice used at these televised events, but to maintain it over a period of time is very difficult. The other issue is that curlers see four to five feet of curl and think that’s what they want.  In reality, the average curler has trouble with that much curl. Anticipating the break point is key – and difficult. So is putting enough positive rotation on the stone. Making and maintaining championship ice takes a lot of effort by a full team of ice technicians. By all means enjoy watching the game on TV. But more importantly, enjoy – and appreciate – your home club ice, too! Do you have questions for Jamie Bourassa about making or maintaining great curling ice? Send them to the editor at [email protected]  

Great ice at the Tim Hortons Brier (Photo CCA/Michael Burns)