Gimli's gold-medal icemaker heads to Sochi
One of the best ice makers in the world hones his craft in Gimli, Manitoba, and is now heading to Russia for the Olympic Games.
Hans Wuthrich is in charge of making the curling ice in Sochi — and making sure everything is perfect.
"If things aren't absolutely perfect I can't sleep all night because I want to make it better the next day. It's one thing about curling ice, you really have to care," he said.
"You can't say it's good enough. You've got to put 110 per cent into it to make it perfect."
Wuthrich said he has to ensure the quality of the water used to make the ice, and the temperature of the ice, are both absolutely perfect for the best curlers in the world.
To that end, he has created his own ice-making machines and even an ice-monitoring system called Eye on the Ice.
It's a wireless environmental monitoring system that allows the ice technician to keep a close eye on ice conditions from anywhere in the building and even over the internet.
The system was used to monitor all five city competition venues (Canada Hockey Place, Vancouver Olympic Centre, Pacific Coliseum, Richmond Olympic Oval, and UBC Thunderbird Arena) at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games.
Wuthrich expects the ice in Sochi, which is next to the Black Sea, to have many of the same challenges as that in Vancouver, which is next to the Pacific Ocean.
One thing that will likely be different, however, is the amount of red lint on the ice. When the Games were in Canada, the home-crowd fans made their presence felt in the stands and on the ice.
"It was so crazy the ice would turn red from all the red mittens and all the red flags. Like when we'd mop the ice, the mops actually were red," Wuthrich said.
"The fluff, it was absolutely amazing because everybody had Canadian flags, Canadian jerseys, like hockey jerseys, red ones, and they bought so many Canadian souvenirs, it was just this sea of red.
"So everybody was clapping and waving flags, everything got on the ice and we had to mop the ice extra times."