Competitors at the Viterra tournament in Virden will curl on ice made by Greg Ewasko of Oakbank, Man.
“We’re trying to get the best representative from Manitoba,” Ewasko pointed out the importance of the Viterra. “I have to make the ice just the same as I would for the Brier (his next assignment). There will be big curl… five to five-and-a-half feet. Regular curling ice is about two, to two-and-a-half-feet.”
Ewasko, a 20-year plus veteran icemaker, made the ice in 2014 for the Scotties in Virden.
Turning hockey ice into the ultra dead-level surface of championship curling ice may require a Zamboni-shave to lower the highs, and then multiple floods to bring the low side up.
“Most hockey arenas that I go into, the surface isn’t very level at all,” said Ewasko. In 2014, he recalls adding over two inches of fresh flooding on parts of the arena ice, to bring the surface to level.
“When we come, it’s the whole show! I just found over the years - try everything we possibly can.”
Ewasko has travelled the globe making ice.
“I’ve been to China three times, it was at least warm,” he commented, arriving in Virden on Wednesday, Jan. 30, a -38-degree morning.
He recently created the ice in Sweden for the World’s Senior Championships where the gold championship games in both the men’s and women’s were won by Canadian rinks - a “highlight trip.”
A Certified Level 5 National Ice technician, Ewasko “learned the art under Hans Wüthrich, the guru of ice making in Canada and around the world.”
He leaves nothing to chance, and water quality is key.
“I’m bringing out our reverse osmosis system. It is sponsored out of Jet Ice from Regina, Sask…. so its’ exactly the same every time.”
“When we come, it’s the whole show! I just found over the years, try everything we possibly can.”
The rocks are also special. Owned by CurlManitoba and brought to Virden, Ewasko sands them, preparing the granite.
The big tournament will mean some fun for local curlers as well.
“Hopefully, on Monday we’re going to have a fun game with the club members. They’ll come out and throw some stones and have some fun.”
For the ice maker, his season holds more championship ice surfaces to prepare in Brandon, eastern Canada, and Saskatoon. By May, he will take time with his wife and children. Come August, it’s ice making season again.