15 55.546312 -4.494807 1 1 400 1 https://britishcurlingsupplies.co.uk 300 1

Curling Through an Ice Maker’s Eyes

This week, we spoke to our own Frazer Shaw, delving into his love for Ice Making and where it has taken him in his career so far.

“When I started in the ice making industry back in October 2016 I quickly realised the complexity of making optimal ice for curlers. Curling ice is a unique surface to create, different to Skating or Ice Hockey Ice. The intricacies of creating conditions for curling are extensive, with many factors coming into play; ice surface temperature, air temperature, relative humidity, dew point, how sharp are the curling stones, how well balanced is the blade or what pebbles to lay onto the ice. The rink which I currently work in, has a great, well controlled environment to minimise variables and therefore keep the ice as consistent as possible for players. However, us ice makers describe the ice as “a living thing”, which we only have so much control over, which means things are constantly changing. I personally enjoy the daily challenge of problem solving to assess which variable is affecting the conditions differently that day, and altering them as necessary. The variables are like a puzzle, like a mathematical equation, I find it interesting monitoring trends when creating ice conditions, I think this is one of the most important pieces of my job in order to obtain an optimal product for our curlers to play on. 

On top of variables within one specific rink, each venue is and reacts completely differently to the next one when altering controllable variables. This being one of the most challenging parts to creating championship ice at World or Scottish curling events. I have been very fortunate to learn and gain experience from really knowledgeable ice makers around the world and it has stood me in good stead the first few adventures of my own. I have led the team for last 2 years at the Scottish Curling Championships, during that time I have had some great challenges in an arena setting where the variables of creating good ice conditions multiplies by a few times, compared to your average curling club set up. It has been an honour to create ice for some of the best curling athletes in the world! 

So, what does all of this mean to our club curlers? Other than a load of jargon… It means you could be presented with different ice conditions from day to day, or session to session. 

My top 3 tips to tackling ice conditions on a given day;

  1. What’s the weather like today? Do you ever come into a game of curling, and it is raining heavily outside, I believe this may be a weekly occurrence living in Scotland. Moisture from the rain or even doors being open for any length of time can create inconsistencies in ice over time. This may potentially cause frost and therefore slower, trickier ice conditions.
  2. Can other curlers affect your ice conditions? Sure, if all the sheets are being played on this will create air movement on the ice pad, creating the temperature to rise in the rink. You might find your ice gets faster as you get through your first end or two, this could be as the pebble breaks down and the heat from the rink being full can change the conditions you are playing on. 
  3. Can your ice maker help you understand more about your game? Why not ask for their expert advice on what the conditions will be like for your game. It is extremely important to know to get a potential head start. I have moved around multiple rinks over the years and worked with a lot of ice makers, I haven’t met one yet that ever tries to make bad conditions for your game. Sometimes it may be well out of their control with the tools and apparatus that are provided to them.”
Scottish Championship Pop-Up Shop