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Premier Selinger Visits Portage Scotties

Thursday Jan 26 2012

It was easy to see Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger was impressed Wednesday when he visited the Manitoba Scotties Tournament of Hearts presented by Monsanto. Even for a man whose job is to lead and to be a cheerleader for all things Manitoban, Premier Selinger saw some things he didn’t know about or expect to see in Portage.

Not the on ice exhibition, of course. He expected what he saw from Manitoba’s finest female curlers.

It was in the behind the scenes areas of the championship where two pieces of “Made in Manitoba” technology earned the Premier’s praise.

First, Ice Technician Greg Ewasko introduced him to ‘Eye On The Ice”, the brainchild of Gimli’s Han Wuthrich. It is a system used world wide in curling and other championship ice competition venues to monitor ice temperatures at multiple locations on the surface along with building air temperatures and other factors which can have an immediate and detrimental effect on the playing surface.

With constant information on their laptop computers at the end of the ice, and relayed as well to their smartphones, the ice technicians are immediately able to react to changes.

It gave the Premier real pleasure to hear that this “Made in Manitoba” system was used to monitor all of the ice surfaces at the Vancouver Olympics – from curling to speed-skating, figure-skating and hockey.

A second, less known but equally impressive system is in use for the first time at the Scotties in Portage.

In consultation with CurlManitoba’s Water System sponsorWaterite, Ewasko explained the need for a high capacity, portable water purification system to create the large volume of high quality water required for creating championship curling ice.

The Waterite system is a reverse osmosis process which takes city water with about 800ppm (parts per million) of minerals and purifies it to five ppm. The water then goes through the JetIce process, which is more familiar to curling fans, and made even purer by de-ionization. Ewasko explains that the large volumes contributed by Waterite’s system allowed for a significant speed up in the arena ice installation because the final JetIce stage was a final important step rather than the complete process.

“The water’s absolutely pure so when they do the ice-making, it just gives you much higher quality, greater level of consistency of the ice. It shows we can put on an event with world class facilities - world class ice. The ice makers here will probably end up in the Olympics because of the skills they have, the Premier remarked.

He also recognized the importance of the Waterite system outside the arena as a water purification system for remote Manitoba communities.

Mr. Selinger says he has curled a few times but says by no means would he call himself a curler. As he watched the Wednesday afternoon draw, he acknowledged the level of ability he was seeing.

“They’re athletes, they’re competitors, they’re obviously leaders because they have to dedicate themselves to this. There’s a discipline that comes with that. There’s a lifetime commitment that comes with that. Training now is a big part of that. So they don’t just walk out on the ice, they do a lot of work to be ready for these big tournaments,” Premier Selinger said. “Yes, they are athletes at a world class level. Curlers in Manitoba have shown they can compete anywhere in the world.”

Photo: Premier Selinger with Greg Ewasko (l) and (r) Rick Okaluk (Supervisor, Inside Sales & Technical Services) & Mike Flood (Design Technician), Waterite Technolgies, Inc.



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