To say our ice has been a challenge in the second half of the season is an understatement.
I’m sure by now that everyone is aware of the changes that happened with our ice before this season began. We underwent an entire ice plant replacement, went to a Jet Ice water filtration system as well as transitioning to a new ice making team. All and all it has been tremendous change with a large learning curve. I’ve been very proud of our efforts and our end results, even with our obvious challenges. This brings me to what has been happening the second half of the season.
I feel that our ice has been great. It’s keen and weight sensitive. Yes this means that if your weight is off the rock will cut early or finish late and slow rock rotation can give an almost “pick” like reaction but this really put the game in the thrower’s hand. We even had some former Brier reps practice here and refer to our ice to as close to Brier ice they’ve curled on.
I want to explain what has happened since Christmas.
We started to see sheets of ice with dramatic curl on one side with substantially less on the other. There was the odd run or place where the rock would even fall. I have to admit that these changes caught us a little off guard simply because we hadn’t changed what we were doing. Our Ice Making Team got hard at work to fix these issues. It turns out it isn’t a simple fix. They methodically worked through a long list of possible issues including, scraper blades, scraping patterns, pebble heads, pebbling patterns, ice temperature and air temperature. They flooded. They deep melted. They scraped everything down and built it all back up. They worked with other ice makers in and out of the city. A lot of long days and early mornings. Even Mother Nature made things difficult with record high days in February as well as some dramatic temperature changes. Our Ice Makers are a very passionate group and they take a lot of pride in the work they do but even after all of these steps we weren’t seeing the end result we were hoping for. The more people we worked with and talked to we saw the common opinion was it might be our brine lines under the ice. We called in the refrigeration company and our fears were realized. We opened up a small section of our floor and the refrigeration company ran a couple of tests. We have obstructions in our brine lines.
Fixing brine lines while the ice is in is a bit of a gamble to say the least. We are doing things now to hopefully remove some air from the lines and improve the ice. The last thing we want to do is ruin the ice so the decision has been made to wait and do the major work on this at the end of the season.
I appreciate our curler’s passion. Our staff are also passionate about providing every guest the best experience possible on every visit.
Some of you have spoken to me to express your comments and concerns. I welcome that and please continue to do so. I also appreciate everyone’s patience as we continue working hard every day to be Saskatoon’s Curling Club of Choice.