A Manitoba family is sweeping into the new year playing a beloved prairie sport, after building a full curling rink in their barn in the RM of Springfield.
The decked out ice is the brainchild of Jeff and Faith Van Ryssel. The couple says they started ruminating on the idea seven years ago after getting out of dairy farming.
“We had a space in the barn that we always knew was going to be big enough, and usable to make as a curling rink,” said Jeff Van Ryssel.
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“We’d often joke ‘oh we should put a curling rink in there now that the cows are out.’ You just kind of joke about it and move on with your life.”
Fast forward to late fall of 2020 when Manitoba brought in Level Red restrictions, shutting down curling clubs.
The Van Ryssel’s son is a competitive curler and they figured it was the perfect opportunity to build something for the family.
“That’s when my wife and I thought, why don’t we try this,” said Van Ryssel.
The search for proper curling rocks began on Kijiji, and ended with a shipment from a curling club in Lloydminster. That’s when Van Ryssel said he knew they were committed to making curling ice.
The rink is standard size using measurements from the internet and a sheet of plastic mesh that has the proper lines to go beneath the ice.
After starting the ice flooding process in early December, Van Ryssel said creating layer after layer of thin perfection was a tedious process. When asked how many hours went into the rink, Van Ryssel would only say “a lot”.
“I have a whole new appreciation for ice makers now after doing this,” he laughed.
While their son is using the rink for regular practice, the family planned to play their first, full household game on Dec. 31 to ring in the new year right.
“Honestly, this is probably one good thing that will come out of the pandemic because this never would have happened had we not been in this situation. We would have been too busy curling at our local club in Dugald, and coaching and with the kids’ extra curricular activities.”