House busy readying playing surface for provincial men’s curling championship
TRURO – Cyril House has learned from the best.
The 64-year-old Valley resident is smack in the middle of his first year as primary caretaker of the ice at Truro Curling Club and has plenty of little tips and tricks from his mentor, 25-year iceman Wayne Scisson, up his sleeve to help him along the way.
His skills will be put to the test this week as the Molson Coors Tankard provincial men’s curling championship descends on the club. The event, which will see eight teams battle to represent Nova Scotia at the Tim Hortons Brier, runs Wednesday to Sunday and House couldn’t be more excited.
“This is the pinnacle for an icemaker in Nova Scotia,” he said.
House took over the duties this season after Scisson decided to call it a career last Spring. House had been working under Scisson, soaking up all he could in preparation for taking the reins and he quickly found out there was a lot to learn.
“For me, it was the shortcuts and tricks of the trade of being able to fix bad spots,” House said. “Wayne is the master and he’s showed me a lot.”
House and a crew of other volunteers, including Scisson who has returned to the fold to help with the Tankard, have been busy for more than a week preparing the ice for the event.
They started by heating the ice, called a ‘burn’, which allows dirt in the ice to float to the surface before it is vacuumed away. The process is one that’s fallen by the wayside with most clubs in the province in favour of simply flooding over old ice.
“But Wayne is a believer and he’s making me a believer that burning is the way to go,” House said. “You’re able to keep less ice on the surface and the thinner the ice is the colder it will be and the better quality it is.”
Once the ice freezes again it is shaved, flooded and shaved again. Then House and his crew pebbled the ice by sprinkling it with water, which makes the surface rough and allows the stones to curl.
Producing a quality playing surface is more than just a job for House, it’s a matter of pride. He said its “unfair” to provide anything less for curlers, especially when such high stakes are on the line.
“It’s only fair their skill and not the ice conditions dictates who wins the championship and represents Nova Scotia at the Brier,” he said.
House and his crew received plenty of positive feedback on their ice when the club hosted a cashspiel, which included several Tankard teams, in December. House said he has no doubt teams will get the same quality surface this week.
“I’m confident in our ice and confident in the crew we have here in the maintenance of it,” House said. “I think we’re going to have great ice for the competition.”