REDWATER, Alta– After spending hours painting, repainting, flooding and refolding the sheets of ice at his local curling club, Kevin Grumetza thought there had to be a better way to make a curling rink.
It was during the middle of the night after a late night painting session that the part-time farmer cam up with his idea of the printed rink liner.
“I thought this isn’t fun any more. There has to be a better way,” said Grumetza of Thorhild, Alta.
Grumetza first envisioned a gigantic roll of paper towel. He knew it had to be shite and knew it needed to be made of mesh to let the water and cold through.
ten years later, almost 100 curling rinks ad one hockey arena from Alberta to Italy have thrown away their paintbrush and replaced it with his mesh rink liner.
Dave McRae, project manager from the town of Redwater, estimates they will save 60 percent of the usual cost of ice installation by using rink liners in both the arena and curling rink at the town’s Provident Place multi-use facility.
Instead of spending two weeks painting lines on the three sheets of ice at Redwater’s curling rink, the reusable rink liners were rolled out in 11 minutes. By the next day, curlers were on the ice.
It took seven hours to place, cut and tack the 11 pieces of rink liner in the 1,530 square meter hockey arena and three days to make the ice instead of the usual two weeks.
“Right now I’m very, very happy, not only with the installation price but the ongoing product capability.” said McRae.
The rink liner looks like a large sheet of Aida cloth, the same open-weave material used in cross stitching or hooked rugs. Grumetza said one of the biggest challenges was convincing a printer to take on the monumental task of printing the long mesh sheets.
Now that it’s developed, the biggest comment is why anyone didn’t think of this before, said Grumetza, who operates Hack to Hack Solutions and Goal to Goal Solutions. He already has orders for seven hockey rinks and 200 curling rinks next year.
One of the biggest benefits of Grumetza sees is not having tonnes of paint, traditionally mixed into the ice, washed down the drain each spring or pushed out onto the parking lot and allowed to seep into the sewer system.
“It’s so much more environmentally friendly.” he said.
At the end of the season, the ice plant is turned off, the ice melts and the cloth is dried and rolled up until next winter.
“It’s a very versatile product” said McRaw who has been contracted by several surrounding municipalities and small towns to analyze the liners and report back.
McRae said the mesh lets the cold through easier so that the temperature of the ice making equipment doesn’t need to be as cold and a solid ice surface can be made with less water.
“The ice seems to get very hard, very fast,” said McRae.
“For curlers and hockey players, it’s a colder keener ice,” said Grumetza.