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  • Vermilion Voice

Vermilion Curling Club Faces Devastating Loss Of Ice

Club members and volunteers beginning to put the ice back in the Vermilion Curling Rink on January 12. Photo Angela Mouly

In the early evening of Wednesday, January 4, a boring company struck the curling rink’s six-inch brine line, and all the brine from the curling rink’s slab was lost. Though it was a horrible setback, they are trying to remain positive and see a glimmer of hope toward the end of the season as they aim to rebuild.

“Curling is one of those things that is a passion,” said Tim DeRoo.

At the time, the magnitude and seriousness of the strike were unknown. The Vermilion Curling Club (VCC) runs Men’s League on Wednesdays, so curling was cancelled for the night, and all the heaters were turned down to maintain a cool temperature on the ice surface. VCC had their biggest bonspiel of the season on the upcoming weekend he said, so keeping the ice was of the utmost importance.

Ice Maker, Lawson Clyke, monitored the ice and building temperatures throughout the night and the next day. However, Friday morning, it was determined the bonspiel was not going to happen, and by late Friday afternoon, since the pipeline was not going to be fixed in time, he said the VCC made the “impossible” decision to take out the ice. So on Saturday, January 7, a crew of approximately 20 members assisted in ripping out the ice.

“It was an extremely sad day, as we have never lost the ice part way through the season,” said DeRoo. “Afterwards, it was determined we would try to reinstall the curling ice and finish the season. The repairs were completed on Monday, and new brine started to flow. In all, it takes approximately 17 days to make the curling ice in Vermilion. It is a daunting task to do it twice in the same season.”

The VCC assembled another large crew on Thursday, January 12, to begin the process once again. Volunteers even included a couple of missionaries from the United States and community members who came to help out. The more help you have, the less work it is he said, and with extra volunteers, the boards were laid within a few minutes. Because the brine has already been circulating for a couple of days, he said the first step is sealing the cement. They have to flood layers 10 feet at a time, creating partial floods to level the area. In the meantime, he said Kitscoty and Islay offered their ice surfaces to use and so aside from the numerous volunteers, that throughout the whole process, it seemed like there was still a good spotlight on humanity.

“VCC would like to thank our Ice Maker, Lawson Clyke, for his commitment to the craft and the tireless effort he exuded during the whole process. As well as a big thanks to Rex Smith of the Town of Vermilion; his knowledge of the plant and its workings proved invaluable throughout this ordeal,” said DeRoo. “Lastly, to our members, community and surrounding communities - thanks for the continued support and kinship. We look forward to seeing everyone throwing rocks at houses in the near future.”

Their season usually runs from the end of October to the end of March. With plans now underway they are hoping to be done the ice by February 1, or even earlier. He noted that this wasn’t their first upset, that COVID had been really hard on the club as well, having lost a lot of interest within just a couple of years. In the midst of that, he said President, Andrew McCrae, was a big inspiration in getting the Grow The Ice Plant fundraiser rolling as well.

DeRoo said, “Keeping this season running is important because of the junior program and the seniors. If the juniors don’t get ice, they will move onto something else and we’re extremely fortunate to have Joanne McCrae coach for them, and it helps keep the seniors involved in the community and the legacy of the sport.”

DeRoo has been curling since he was nine-years old (35 years) and he loves the competition, the comradery, the laughs and good times, and the lounge upstairs. You can support the VCC in the coming months by attending bonspiels, or cheering them on from the lounge.

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