Like father, like son.
It’s said the acorn does not fall far from the tree and the ice-making Merklingers are a prime example.
Dave Merklinger, 62, and son Mike, 37, are teaming up to smooth things over, at least on the base layer, at the annual Scotties Tournament of Hearts which runs Friday through Feb. 4 at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
Dave, known as “Merk” to friends and colleagues, is described as the “fun loving” manager and ice maker at the Vernon Curling Club.
His skills, like those of his mentor, the late Shorty Jenkins, have earned him world-wide recognition.
Installation of the four surface sheets for the Scotties over the existing ice at the SOEC began after last Saturday’s Vees junior A hockey game.
Since then, the pair have been working day and night with about 20 volunteers to get things ready for Thursday’s first, evening practice.
While the Merklingers roles as chief and deputy ice technicians at major bonspiels may not be immediately apparent to onlookers, what happens on and because of the ice, definitely is.
The ice temperature is impacted by everything from humidity to the heat generated by the thousands of bodies in the stands and is critical to the playing conditions.
Icemaking for Dave, like his son, was an evolution from his fondness of the sport as a player.
“It’s a passion for curling, I love curling, I love the game of curling and I’m so humbled by the game of curling that to be able to make ice for a championship like this is incredible,” said Dave as he watched the progress earlier this week. “To be quite honest, his (Mike’s) job, my job is to provide entertainment. We have to have entertaining enough surfaces for the players to be able to perform well and make it entertaining for the spectators that are paying to see it.
“With this ice you have to be very careful. The temperatures have to be precise because the curling stones react to the slightest variance in temperature.”
There is another family connection to the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, Dave’s younger sister Anne is a two-time runner up in the event and in 2010 received the Scotties Builders Award.
Last fall Dave was inducted into the prestigious Governor-General’s Curling Club.
This is the ice maker’s second working visit to the SOEC having been the chief ice technician for the World Financial Group Continental Cup of Curling in January, 2013.
“It’s a fine building and hopefully we’ll provide the best ice possible again this time,” said Dave.