LONDON, Ont. -- The bottom line for the 2011 Tim Hortons Brier will be taking a $40,000 hit, thanks to Mother Nature.
Saturday’s mild, wet weather, combined with sizable crowds at the John Labatt Centre, created havoc with the ice as a good deal of frost built up along the sides of each of the four sheets and gradually crept toward the middle as the first draw’s games went on.
As a result, the Canadian Curling Association brought in a portable dehumidification system – the JLC has no dehumidifiers – that will run the next eight days. The cost, about $40,000, will come out of the Brier’s operational budget.
“We’re not unfamiliar with doing this; we did the same thing at the worlds in Moncton in 2009 and we’ve had to do it Regina a couple of times,” said Warren Hansen, the CCA’s director of event operations and media relations.. “The problem is it’s too warm outside. Even with the amount of people in here, if it was colder outside all they’d have to do is open the doors between draws. But if they did that now, it would just allow more humidity in.”
While the frost made for some tricky situations and made the curlers less than comfortable with some shots off the centre line, they weren’t overly concerned.
“You could see it creeping in as the game went on, but it was still curling and it still had good speed,” said Newfoundland/Labrador skip Brad Gushue after he crushed Eddie MacKenzie of Prince Edward Island 12-1. “We’ve dealt with this before; it’s not an issue yet.”
Added Saskatchewan skip Steve Laycock, who got by Jamie Koe of the Territories 6-4: “The first couple of ends we got caught a couple of times and we didn’t feel comfortable with a lot of shots early on. It was a struggle to figure out where to put the broom. Hopefully it will get better, but if not, I’m prepared to deal with it.”