Curling: Ice technician returns for Naseby event

Canadian ice technician Doug Wright on the job at the Naseby Indoor Curling Rink this week. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Canadian ice technician Doug Wright on the job at the Naseby Indoor Curling Rink this week. Photo by Craig Baxter.

Doug Wright is the master. He has been travelling the world for the last 19 years to prepare ice for international curling events.

Wright (51) is the chief ice technician for the Asia and Pacific curling championships in Naseby.

He spends four months of the year away from his Manitoba grain farm on ice-making duties, and has been grooming ice for the last 26 years.

"It started as a wintertime job at home in Waskada to subsidise my grain farm," he said.

His family has a history of curling and he threw down his first rock at the age of 9.

"When I took the job as ice-maker it grabbed my interest," he said.

"I saw another side of curling.

"I thought it would be just a six-month job."

Wright said an ice-maker needed "lots of patience, a thick skin and an ability to survive on as little sleep as possible."

"You have to work with the conditions you have to make good ice. I used to see it as an artist with a blank piece of paper.

"But now that I'm getting older I find it more of a challenge and not so creative."

Wright has friends in curling countries across the globe.

"One of my favourite spots is Naseby. I enjoy coming back here as much as I can. I want to spend more time here in the future.

"It is small, just like my home town, and everyone is so friendly. Every time I come here I go for a walk around the town and end up bumping into five or six people who know me and we stop and have a beer."

The best event he has worked at was the women's world championships at the city of Gangnon in Korea in 2009.

At a world championships there is enough money available from the World Curling Federation to make sure the best equipment is available.

At smaller venues like Naseby it is more of a challenge, because there is no heat into the building.

When the rink opened in 2005 Wright was invited to make the ice and he has been impressed by the way the venue has developed.

"I have seen it go from concrete walkways to carpet, to dehumidification, to specialised filtration for the flood water. At the moment it is the only dedicated curling rink in the southern hemisphere."