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Making ice for Players' a matter of precision

One would think the icemaker for this week's Grey Power Players Championships would be sweating bullets.

One would think the icemaker for this week's Grey Power Players Championships would be sweating bullets.

Former and present world title holders, past and reigning Olympic medalists and many Canadian champs will be on the ice Tuesday through Sunday for a shot at the $50,000 first-place prize.

Lots of pressure with all that talent. Must make the icemaker squirm?

Not a chance.

Mark Shurek is as cool as the ice he's laying down.

For him it's just another day at the office.

He's done it all before. The Slams, the European championships.

At 35 and with about 17 years of experience behind him, the Winnipeg resident has become an expert in the art of making curling ice which is why he's been called in to make the ice for this week's contest at the EnCana Events Centre.

"It's pretty straight forward," explained Shurek.

"The biggest challenge is keeping the ice consistent for the curlers from beginning to end, so that the first rock to the last rock it does the same thing, the same speed and the same curl."

The curling ice has gone in right on top of the hockey ice.

Then the icemakers worked at ensuring the sheets are level. That can be tricky because unlike hockey ice which can be slightly uneven and it probably won't make any difference, that's not the case with curling where the slightest flaw could win or lose a tight game.

"When you are curling it has to be almost perfectly level so that the rock curls the right way. If it isn't level the rock will float and dive and jump off a hill. That's the main thing - you have to have it level."

Once Shurek and his crew of volunteers icemakers from Dawson Creek, Fort St. John and McLeod were certain the surface was flawless, the ice was painted, the measurements were made, the lines and rings painted on, some foam and carpet laid down and the place is now ready for curling.

Shurek and his crew finished most of the work this weekend. They will now scrape here and there, monitor the temperatures and fiddle with the ice plant and the air temperature to ensure the ice is consistent from today's practice sessions to Saturday's women's final and Sunday's men's final.