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Ice in his veins


When Greg Ewasko was younger he never aspired to be an ice technician.
Rather, he wanted to curl, and in fact he was a curler from the time he was eight-years-old until about four years ago. But shortly after finishing high school, a volunteer job at a curling club in his home province of Manitoba led to an offer he couldn't resist.
"Hans (Wurthwich), one of the world's best known ice technicians, asked me to be an assistant at his curling club," Ewasko says. "I worked with him for one year before I decided I wanted to do it on my own."
Eventually, Ewasko gave up his curling career in favour of being a full-time ice technician.
"I realized I can make more money making (ice) than I can curling on it," he says.
Today, Ewasko is a Curling Association Level III ice technician, as well as the head ice technician at Heather Curling Club in Winnipeg, who has spent the past 13 years perfecting curling ice. Recently, he was hired to be the ice technician for the 2007 Sobeys Slam, taking place at John Brother MacDonald Stadium and Bluenose Curling Club from Nov. 28-Dec. 2. The event is the first women's Grand Slam to be held east of Winnipeg. With a $54,000 cash prize up for grabs, it will attract some of the best women's curling teams from across North America.
It was Ewasko's reputation that led to his hiring, says Jim Nix, chairman of the Sobeys Slam.
"There's probably nobody in our area that I'm aware of that has the experience of putting ice in a hockey arena that he does," says Nix. "It really is a different game than putting it in a curling club. And when we're bringing the best curlers in the world here, we can't take a chance on not providing them with a good surface."
Ewasko, who arrived in New Glasgow on Thursday, is working with a team of 15 men to make the ice at John Brother MacDonald stadium, which has been chipped by hockey players and recreational skaters, presentable for a major curling event. He has as many as five days to put in four sheets of ice.
Ewasko says his job is a challenge. He has to monitor every detail at all times, from the ice surface to the air temperature.
"It is an art," he says. And with that in mind, Ewasko says there's a difference between someone who is an ice technician and someone who is simply an icemaker.
"In hockey, when you shoot a puck down the ice, you don't really care as long as it hits the guy's stick," he says.
"In curling, you're expecting this 44 pound rock to do four feet of curl either into the centre of the (ice) sheet or to the outside of the sheet. To make that rock do that consistently from sheet one to sheet four, that's where you can tell who is an icemaker and who is an ice technician."

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