Merklinger keeping Scott curlers on ice

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:36 AM ET

ST. JOHN'S -- Dave Merklinger looks out at the four sheets of ice covering the floor of the Mile One Stadium and shrugs his shoulders. "Even this morning, my stomach was in knots before the games," says Merklinger, the longtime Ottawa resident who moved to Vancouver five years ago, about the stresses of being the chief icemaker of a national curling championship.

He's in charge of a staff of 22 icemakers, many of them volunteers, whose job is to make the ice of sufficient calibre for a Canadian final.

"You can't cool down ice, you can only warm it up. If you don't have it set properly beforehand, then you're screwed."

His main concern in St. John's in the ever-changing weather. The locals say you can experience the climate of four seasons in the matter of hours on the Rock, something that could play havoc with ice in a curling championship held in a large arena.

"If it does rain outside, it might create some problems, but I don't foresee any problems," said Merklinger, who learned the art of icemaking from Shorty Jenkins as a teenager in Trenton.

Merklinger was the biggest name in Ottawa men's curling for a couple of decades, starting in the mid-70s.

His younger sister, Anne, picked up the torch during that decade.

He had his share of success on the Ontario cash scene, but was never able to win a provincial title as a skip despite numerous trips to the Ontario championships.

He played in the 1985 Brier as the second for Earle Morris, and once skipped a team at the national mixed. Jenn Hanna's parents, Bob and Val, were on that squad, along with Merklinger's ex-wife, Janet.

He moved to the west coast to become manager of the Royal City Curling Club in New Westminster.

He's still curling competitively, but hasn't been able to win the B.C. provincials. But his main focus is on operating the club, and making good ice at the Scott.

"As a competitive curler, I know what I want," said Merklinger who turns 50 in March. "I'm also here to put on an entertaining show of curling. If the (ice) doesn't curl, if it's crappy ice, it's not going to be entertaining.

barre.campbell@ott.sunpub.com


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