The hockey nets and blue lines at the Leon’s Centre, where the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs usually play, have replaced by blue, white and red rings.
Greg Ewasko — the man in charge of getting the ice ready for the 2020 Brier in Kingston — arrived on Sunday and says they are about a day and a half ahead of schedule.
The first step in the speedy transformation from hockey to curling rink is using a laser to check how level the ice is, explains Ewasko.
Then comes flooding the ice.
“A 4,000-gallon flood to level it right out, then painting the ice white; cut the circles, paint the circles.”
The more intricate science comes into play when 21 remote sensors are placed in the ice and the surrounding boards, allowing Ewasko and his team to measure ice temperature in degrees Fahrenheit, humidity and the dew point.
The crew then uses that information to keep the ice in perfect condition when the curlers are competing.
But the conditions can change radically when the building fills with several thousand spectators, Ewasko adds.
“We have a chance to see if we can bring in outside air to dehumidify the building or if we have to use mechanical dehumidifications.”
Gord McNabb, the general manager of event operations who has been on Curling Canada’s Brier team since 2002, says the volunteer crew in Kingston eases the preparation process.
“They have done events before, especially the 2013 Scotties, so we have a lot of the same people back again.”
McNabb is also excited about the Brier Patch.
“It’s a place outside of the curling that friends and people join and have a brew together,” he says, adding it’s also an area where fans can meet Brier curlers and get autographs.
The Brier Patch isn’t a new concept, McNabb explains, but holding it in a large metal framed tent that runs almost the entire length of the arena is new.
“Usually, we put the patch into a building that is already there. It has been challenging, a learning experience for all of us, but it’s still going to be party central.”
The Brier officially starts Saturday, Feb. 29, but there is a free wild card game Friday night with the winner taking the last open spot in the competition.