Laying down curling sheets on top of traditional hockey rink ice is old hat to Dave Merklinger.
However, the chief ice technician for the World Financial Group Continental Cup still kept a close eye on things Monday in preparation for this week's high-profile curling event at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton.
Merklinger, from Vernon, is the Canadian Curling Association's official icemaker for the event. He is being assisted by Del Haidenger of the Penticton Curling Club and a 15-member crew.
The team started work late Saturday night, immediately after the Penticton Vees' hockey game, and began the process of adding layers of curling ice and markings overtop the hockey ice.
"We removed all the glass, put a flood on and 24 hours later it's kind of there," he said. "We build right on top of the original hockey ice."
More floods and pebbling of the curling surfaces will continue today prior to the first practice sessions this evening. Local volunteer curlers will test the ice prior to the start of Continental Cup action on Thursday.
Twelve of the world's top men's and women's curlers will meet in the ninth annual Continental Cup at the SOEC. Patterned much like golf's Ryder Cup, teams from North America and Europe will compete in men's, women's, mixed doubles and skins play.
Merklinger said laying the three curling sheets down at the SOEC is nothing new for him, noting he has had similar experience at other high-profile curling events across the country.
"We do this all the time. This is pretty standard," he said.
Still, Merklinger admits he can feel the pressure of being in charge of an ice surface for the top names in the game.
"My job is to make it look good on TV. My job is to make sure that the curlers can make great shots and try and sell this game," he said.
Merklinger first began making curling ice in 1974. His expertise is now called upon for major events, such as the Continental Cup, two or three times a year.
Keeping the ice keen under TV lights and before large crowds is no easy task.
"We're here three hours before the first draw right up until the last rock thrown that day," he said. "You have to constantly monitor the temperatures."
Removing the curling ice is a relatively simple process. The Zamboni driver makes a series of dry scrapes to remove the four-centimetre-thick curling ice and markings until it reveals the hockey ice below.
"In one day, it will be done. Then they get back to hockey again."
North America will be represented by four teams from Canada, skipped by Glenn Howard, Kevin Martin, Heather Nedohin and Jennifer Jones, and two teams from the United States, skipped by Heath McCormick and Allison Pottinger.
The captain will be 2000 world champion and 2002 Olympic bronze medallist Kelley Law of Coquitlam, while three-time Brier winner and two-time world champion Rick Lang of Thunder Bay, Ont., will return as coach.
The World lineup will include teams skipped by Sweden's Niklas Edin and Margaretha Sigfridsson, Scotland's Tom Brewster and Eve Muirhead, Norway's Thomas Ulsrud and Switzerland's Mirjam Ott.
The captain will be former world champion David Hay of Scotland, while Peja Lindholm of Sweden, a three-time world champion, will be the coach. These are the same positions they held when directing Team World to victory last season in Langley.
The Continental Cup will be broadcast nationally on TSN, TSN2 and TSN Mobile TV. Tickets are available at the SOEC box office and the Penticton Visitor's Centre, as well as online at www.curling.ca/tickets.