The World Curling Federation has announced that two Canadian veterans have been selected as curling ice technicians for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.
Hans Wuthrich of Gimli, Manitoba has been named Head Ice Technician and Dave Merklinger of Vernon, British Columbia has been named Assistant Head Ice Technician for the XXI Olympic Winter Games, taking place February 12-28.
The pair will also team up to test the competition surface a year earlier. The 2009 World Junior Curling Championship will be staged at the Hillcrest/Nat Bailey Stadium Park and will serve as an official test event.
Wuthrich is generally acknowledged to be the world’s leading ice technician. Last year he steered the playing conditions of various major events, including the 2006 Le Gruyère European Championships in Basel, Switzerland and the 2007 World Women’s Championship in Aomori, Japan.
“I've done so many events, I don’t know the actual number,” said the 50-year-old Wuthrich. “I started keeping track of them in 1993, after I did my first big one, the men’s worlds in Geneva in 1992.
“Just the prestige of doing the Olympics will make it different from anything I’ve experienced.”
Wuthrich already serves as a consultant to the 2010 Olympic process, as a technical advisor to the The Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC). Wuthrich will continue to serve in this role, a position he considers critical to the success of the eventual playing surface.
“The only concern is going to be the building itself,” said Wuthrich. “It’s a temporary curling facility, so we have to be careful about every step in the process.”
After the 2010 Winter Games, the curling venue will become a multi-purpose community recreation centre that will include an ice hockey rink, gymnasium, library and the new eight-sheet Vancouver Curling Club. In addition, an aquatic centre with a 50-metre pool and leisure pool will be attached and will be managed by the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation.
In the 52-year-old Merklinger, Wuthrich sees a familiar face. The two have worked together on more than 10 major curling events over the years, both overseas and within Canada. Merklinger has recently headed the ice crew at the 2007 Canadian men’s championship and the 2007 Ford World Men’s Championship at Edmonton’s Rexall Place.
“I pebbled my first sheet of ice in 1969,” said Merklinger, who also competed at the 1985 Canadian championship at second position. “My first head ice job was in 1974. But I’ve been hoping for the Olympic job for the past few years.
“I've always said, once I get to do the Olympics, I’ve done it all.”
Merklinger will move to Vernon from Vancouver next month to become the head ice technician and club manager at the Vernon Curling Club. He will also lead the ice crew when that city hosts the 2008 Ford World Women’s Championship in March.
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