Crews led by Icemaker Mark Shurek spent the weekend transforming the Memorial Arena and Western Financial Place into topnotch curling rinks. Above

Ice is King In Cranbrook

One of Canada’s top icemakers talks about transforming hockey arenas into a curling rink for the Grand Slam of Curling

  • Nov. 6, 2016 6:00 p.m.

Barry Coulter

Cranbrook has undergone a transformation this weekend, and for the next week will be, inarguably, the curling centre of the world. Hence known as the Land of Rock and Ice.

More than 60 teams from across Canada and the world are arriving in town for the largest sporting event Cranbrook has ever hosted — Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling, part of Sportsnet’s Tour Challenge. Opening ceremonies and the first draw are set for Tuesday, Nov. 8, at Western Financial Place.

Both Cranbrook’s main ice surfaces — WFP and the Memorial Arena — are hosting the action. And over the weekend one of Canada’s top curling icemakers and a team of curling technicians and volunteers were working long hours transforming hockey rinks into Grade A curling rinks.

As the crew was getting set to lay out the lines and etch the outline the outline of the rings on the newly painted ice at WFP, icemaker Mark Shurek took a moment to discuss the science of curling ice making. Consistency over the course of the tournament is the desired goal.

“The main thing curlers are looking for is not much change,” Shurek said.  “As ice makers, we want to start the event out with ‘x’ amount of curl, four and a half feet of curl, and maintain that throughout the week so there’s no change for the curlers.

“It’s much easier for them to play their games, and know what they’re getting.”

The process is writ on the arena scale, for major tournaments like the Grand Slam.

“It takes about three days for us to transform this nice hockey rink into a curling rink, essentially,” Shurek said. “It’s a lot of work, a lot of man hours — we’ve got 16 volunteers in this arena, 16 in the other.”

Once the curling ice is set to go — painted and flooded — the work of maintaining its consistency will last right through to the finals on Sunday.

“For every game we’ll scrape the ice, pebble it, nip it, and run the rocks up and down so it’s nice and keen for the curlers, and very consistent,’ Shurek said.

Shurek became one of Canada’s top curling ice makers by apprenticing with the best. He grew up curling in Manitoba, and when he 16 found himself curling with Hans Wuthrich, legendary Canadian curling ice maker — who’s made curling ice for the Olympics, the Briers and other major events.

“Five years after that I ended up helping [Wuthrich] out on the rink, and  a couple years after that I got the opportunity to make the ice for the Grand Slam of Curling. So that’s how I got into it.”

Making curling ice in an arena, for the top teams in the world in a major televised tournament, is a different manner of beast than for a little small town country club, although the principles are the same.

 

“Some people find it difficult,” Shurek said. “I’ve been very fortunate to do a lot of arena events — I’ve done over 150 events. So this is like a curling club to me now. You always learn something — there’s something new every day, but I’ve got a pretty good handle on it, and we try to do our best for the curlers.”

Shurek spoke about what set the Grand Slam apart from other major tournaments.

“This is an event for the players. It’s a very free and open atmosphere. Players talk to the crowd, give autographs to the kids, even in the middle of a game. And the end of the day, players want the sport to grow. The players work at it to make the event joyful for everyone.”

Shurek also had words of praise for the community and the local staff and volunteers from their efforts and help.

“I want to stress that the arena staff has been excellent,” he said. “The arena staff, the volunteers, it looks like it’s going to be a great event. Everything’s coming together through teamwork.”

Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling, to be broadcast on Sportsnet, runs Nov. 8-13 at Western Financial Place and the Memorial Arena in Cranbrook.

 

Just Posted

Ghostriders welcomed home

Fernie Ghostriders win 5-3 in front of a sold out crowd during home opener

Elkford considers public smoking ban ahead of cannabis legalization

Elkford residents can learn more about the proposed cannabis regulations at an open house today

Crews successfully battle overnight house fire in Tie Lake

No injuries, home damage minimal thanks to quick response by crews

More burning prohibitions rescinded in southeast B.C.

Category 2 and 3 fires will be permitted in Southeast Fire Centre as of 1p.m. on Wednesday.

UPDATED: Pratt to be acclaimed as Cranbrook mayor

Mayor will serve another term after running unopposed in the upcoming municipal election

Watch out for Pavement Patty: Drivers warned outside B.C. elementary school

New survey reveals unsafe school zones during 2018 back-to-school week

Youth give back to community

On August 30, Eliora and William Vandersteen, Matthew White, Isla Vandersteen, Alexis… Continue reading

Update: Search called off for missing plane between Edmonton and Chilliwack

Search efforts were concentrated along the Highway 5 corridor between Valemount and Kamloops

Why Whistler for ski jumping in 2026? Calgary proposal gets pushback

Calgary 2026 proposes re-using the 2010 ski jumping venue Whistler for that sport and nordic

VIDEO: Hundreds line highway as family brings home body of B.C. teen

Northern B.C. showed their support by lining Hwy 16 as Jessica Patrick’s body returned to Smithers.

Despite progress, threat of 232 tariffs dominates NAFTA negotiations

Any deal is seen to require congressional approval before Dec. 1 to survive new Mexican government

B.C. MP Todd Doherty receives award for saving man who collapsed on a plane

Conservative MP was flying from Vancouver to Prince George, B.C., in June last year

Alleged border jumper from Oregon facing 2 charges after police chase in B.C.

Colin Patrick Wilson charged with dangerous operation of motor vehicle, flight from a peace officer

More than 35 B.C. mayors elected without contest

No other candidates for mayor in the upcoming local election in 22 per cent of B.C. cities

Most Read