Cedar Rapids is in the national spotlight for the next four days as the city hosts the USA Curling Arena National Championships. Curling is a game played on ice in which large, round, colored stones are slid across the surface toward a mark known as a button. Think shuffle board, but with a lot more action as team members sweep the path of the stone to control its speed and direction. The surface is always an important factor, but this level of competition demands an ice expert. Enter Kevin Madsen of New London, Minnesota who’s part of an elite crew. He says “ there’s a core group of 15 or 20 of us across the country who can prepare tournament ice.” Madsen explains that the ice used for skating or hockey simply won’t do for curling. He says “the texture is different and the temperature is different. Ice used for curling must be perfectly level and pebbled correctly.”
Pebbling is a process of making many small bumps that allow the stones to glide on the surface. Madsen and his crew have been in Cedar Rapids since Monday. The 2015 USA Curling Arena National Championships run through Sunday at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.