There’s another ‘Ice Meister’ in town


The Winter Olympics is home to multiple sports that compete at an ice rink. 

There’s figure skating, hockey, speed skating, short track and curling.

That’s a lot of ice, so much so that it takes not one but two ‘Ice Meister’s’ to maintence it all. 

We’ve met the man who prepares the ice for the Gangneung Hockey and Curling Centre, Hans Wuthrich.

Now, meet the man who is responsible for maintaining that perfect sheet of ice at the Gangeung Oval.

His name is Mark Messer.

Messer first started making ice in 1983 for his hometown team, the National Hockey League’s Calgary Flames.

In 1988, he began making ice for speed skating at the Olympic Opal for the Calgary Winter Games. 

Now in 2018, he’s working his fifth Olympic games as the official ‘Ice Meister’. 

Mark knows he isn’t the only ‘Ice Meister’ out there, but in his mind he’s the best and says his experience is what seperates him from the pack.

“A lot of them are just as good as I am but what I bring is experience. I have been all over the world and if there are issues here I have seen them before and see the solutions.” says Mark.

There is also a process to perfect speed skating ice, just like there was for hockey and curling.

But unlike the previous process which could start an hour before an event, this one takes a whopping ten days.

It starts with a special concrete floor which must be clean, “We make it cold and then start to make the ice. We filter the water very cleanly and then we put in a little regular water on top just to make it a nice blend of clean and filtered.”

The surface must be taken care of each and every single day and Messer says the biggest thing is to keep the ice clean. 

Temperature also plays an important factor in creating the perfect sheet of ice. 

At the Olympic Oval, the temperature of the ice can vary depending on the event taking place. “The sprinters (500m) want softer ice so that they have more grip but the long distance (10km race), they want alot of glide there so with every push they can go further with less effort.”

Working with ice has turned into a family affair for Messer. His son Matt works at the Oval as well as a Zamboni driver. 
Being able to properly drive a Zamboni is important too, “Anybody can hop on and drive the Zamboni but to operate takes years of experience.” explains Messer. 
“You have to know what you are doing. If you don’t you will make a big mess of the ice.”

Everyone has a different definition for what perfect is, but for Messer, his perfect isn’t about himself, it starts with others.

“Perfection is when you see racers happy. If they are getting personal bests that’s great. We have done our job, given them a surface they can excel on.”

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