Ice melts, morning draw postponed

TED WYMAN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:32 AM ET

PAISLEY, Scotland -- Concerns about the ice conditions seemed to melt away after the frosty first draw of the world women's curling championship Saturday, but they were back with the vengeance of a Manitoba winter wind yesterday.

WIPED OUT

The entire morning draw was wiped out yesterday after ice on several of the sheets at the Lagoon Leisure Centre turned to unplayable slush. The draw has been rescheduled for Friday morning.

Organizers said human error on the part of the ice makers was to blame, but Ian MacAulay, one of two Canadians handling the ice this week, said a malfunctioning compressor was the culprit. Either way, curlers arrived to find puddles on the ice and then were told to go back to bed.

"Of course you are disappointed," said Swedish skip Anette Norberg, whose game against Denmark was postponed. "This isn't supposed to happen at the world championships."

It's not really supposed to happen anywhere, but it certainly attracts more attention when it happens on the world stage. And it was just another in a long line of significant problems for the Paisley host committee.

First they lost the ice (due to a power failure) at the Green Acres Curling Club, site of the 32-team world senior curling championships, forcing the cancellation of practices and two draws on Saturday. Then their time keepers walked out in a dispute over per diems and the women's championship was forced to carry on with no time clocks. On Saturday the frost buildup was so severe, curlers were shaking piles of snow off their brooms.

And now this.

"It's something you would wish would not happen and I would be very disappointed if it happened again," said host committee chairman Alastair MacNish. "These things happen in life. It's been rectified and the championships will go on and be very successful, I hope."

'NO BIG DEAL'

What happened was this: "We did warm up the ice last night to get rid of the frost and we had the compressor set to come back on and it didn't," MacAulay said. "It's no big deal, it's just sh-- happens."

MacAulay and ice-making partner, Kirk Smyth, left the building just before midnight Saturday and came back at 6 a.m. yesterday to find the problem.

MacAulay did take issue with the suggestion that the melting was caused by human error. Asked if he could have set the compressor incorrectly, he responded: "It's possible ... it's highly unlikely."

The problem likely would not have occurred in Canada, where someone from the ice crew always sleeps in the building and checks on temperatures and systems.

"Two guys (here), man ... (at the Brier) it's 22," said MacAulay, who has previously made ice at two European championships, several Ontario provincial playdowns and at three Ottawa curling clubs. "It's a tough building to control, but every building's a challenge."

MacNish said the competitors have been understanding to this point.

"I have to say the curlers have been superb, not just in the women's worlds but in the seniors as well," he said. "I have the highest admiration for them."

Scotland skip Kelly Wood, who arrived to a darkened arena yesterday morning, was not about to be judgmental.

"It was unfortunate that we couldn't play, because we were ready to play, but it's important that they get the ice fixed and we are quite happy to play the game on Friday."

For the record, the "fixed" ice was covered in frost again last night, wreaking havoc with several games.


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