Shoveling piles of snow in the winter may seem like a chore, unless you're an ice maker at the Milwaukee Curling Club. Then it's not a chore, it's part of your job and something you love.
“My responsibilities include building the ice in the fall; maintaining it on a daily, weekly, monthly basis; and then removing it at the end of the season in March,” explained Ice Maker Jay Packard.
“This Ice King scraper is 20 years old,” said Packard as shaved the ice. “It may be replaced in the next year because of the weakness of the Canadian dollar.”
Packard has been maintaining the curling ice at the Milwaukee Curling Club for the last 18 years.
“Scrapers come out of Canada and right now they're at about a 30 percent discount,” continued Packard.
Each day he walks up and down each sheet, scraping off old pebbles: droplets of water that create an irregular surface, ideal for curling.
“When we get to the end we slow down a bit,” explained Packard as he neared the end of the sheet. “And then I do a mirror pass on the other side.”
Shaving is the first part of a precise process that can last up to an hour and a half.
“I could spend all day out here every day and never really be done,” Packard said. “From shaving to cleaning to there's always more work.”
Once the surface is clean, Jay sprinkles hot de-ionized water across the ice to create fresh pebbles.
“I swing my arm wide enough to cover it evenly,” said Packard as he spread the water across the sheet of ice.
The pebbles elevate the curling stone so it glides down the ice. On a flat surface, the rock would barely move.
“If you can trust the curling ice, in other words you know what the rock is going to do, the team that throws it better should win,” Packard said of the final product.
Packard, a curler himself since sixth grade, is happy with his work on this particular day -- hoping for similar results tomorrow.