Bailey Smith to compete in 60 metre at U Sports nationals
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – Bailey Smith is a fast runner who could be on the verge of becoming even faster.
Larry Richards, right, is part of the ice crew at the Tim Hortons Brier in St. John's, N.L.
©Chuck Grady/Special To TC Media
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. – Few people have been in the Tim Hortons Brier 2017 spotlight more than Larry Richards since the event opened here Saturday.
About two weeks ago he received a call from Jamie Bourassa, head ice technician for the Brier, who had broken his ankle. The Alberta resident needed help and Richards was quick to respond.
Bourassa, Richards – who is a level three certified ice technician – and other members of the crew are a law into themselves at ice level before, during and after each draw.
Bourassa is continuing his duties as crew chief despite an ankle cast and crutches but only ventures as far as the coaches' table.
Richard said working the ice at the Brier was a longtime dream.
"It was one of the top things on my bucket list,” said Richards, icemaker at both the Montague and Charlottetown curling clubs.
Richards is on hand for every draw in St. John's, N.L. – helping to supervise pebbling, scraping and fixing any ice-related problems – since the Canadian men's curling championships started at Mile One Centre. Changing handles on rocks, with their electronic sensors, is a regular task.
"It's a great building. We haven't had too many complaints. It has a great air exchange system."
Humidity is often the bane of curlers and icemakers alike, hampering efforts to keep the ice in top condition. But not this week.
With outdoor temperatures hovering just below freezing, amid occasional flurries, the biggest complaint Richards has received is it's too cold at ice level. "We had to bring up the temperatures a couple degrees."
Any draw featuring hometown favourite Brad Gushue has brought out crowds in excess of 7,000, which tends to warm up the building and raise humidity as well.
The ice is quick, running at more than 24 seconds for draws with more than four feet of curl – perfect conditions for Canada's top male curlers.
It means Richards and the crew are doing their job.
Curlers are quick to show their appreciation to the ice crew for their efforts and Richards enjoys the opportunity to meet and chat with many of the country's best-known curlers.
He'll be busy at work right to the end of Sunday night's Brier final and heads home early Monday to resume his P.E.I. curling jobs with one less item on his bucket list.