Ice conditions in the TD Place arena have returned to normal in time for the final weekend of the Tim Hortons Brier, after wet weather outdoors earlier this week created problems for curlers indoors.
"It's nice to see it back," said Team Newfoundland and Labrador skip Brad Gushue. "It was certainly an adjustment playing the last two days on the frost."
Mid-week rain boosted humidity in the arena, and the added moisture created frosty patches on the ice, which slowed down curling rocks.
"What happens here is there's no dehumidification system," said Dave Merklinger, head ice technician for this year's Tim Hortons Brier. "So there's no way of removing the moisture out of the air. So your ice pad actually acts as a dehumidifier, and pulls the moisture onto the ice, and that's what creates frost."
Inconsistent ice conditions an added challenge
But cooler, drier weather Friday helped create what Merklinger calls "perfect" conditions inside TD Place, going into this weekend's page playoffs, semi-finals, and bronze and gold medal draws.
Still, the inconsistent ice conditions this week have been an added challenge for curlers.
"From opening weekend until now, it's not even the same," said Team Manitoba skip Mike McEwen. "It'd be like comparing a curling club to arena ice. So it's interesting to see how it's changed with the weather outside.
"You kind of got to go into your toolbag and you have to throw it a bit different. You can't throw it how you were throwing it the opening weekend."
Although warmer than seasonal weather is expected as the Brier wraps up, Merklinger doesn't believe it will be a factor on the ice inside TD Place.
"I don't mind a little heat," he said. "We can deal with the heat. But it's the moisture in the heat that's the problem. So if it's not raining, we'll be fine."