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Updated: 18th October 2018 00:50

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Meet the man who keeps Canada's best curlers shooting straight

When the best curlers come to town, they demand the best ice — and there's no one better for that task than Jamie Bourassa.

Jamie Bourassa has been carefully shaping ice surfaces for more than 4 decades

Jamie Bourassa is the man responsible for making the Canadian Tire Centre ice sparkle at this year's Olympic curling trials in Ottawa. (Trevor Pritchard/CBC)

Canada's best curlers are in Ottawa this week for the Olympic qualifying trials — so it only makes sense one of the country's best ice makers would follow them here.

For more than four decades, Calgary's Jamie Bourassa has been carefully crafting ice surfaces at rinks and arenas around the globe.

Now he's overseeing conditions at the Canadian Tire Centre as chief ice technician for this week's Roar of the RIngs.

"My dad was rec director in a small town. He used to look after the hockey rink and the swimming pool and the curling rink," Bourassa told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning, before the tournament got underway.

"So I just sort of followed in hand."

For Bourassa and his team, an average day at a tournament of this magnitude lasts anywhere from 12 to 14 hours.

It's incredibly precise work, requiring filtered water that's free of "dissolved solids" and which has been brought to the correct PH level. Bourassa said.

The circles that form the house — the concentric rings where curlers aim to score points — have to be perfect, too.

And then there's avoiding the dreaded picks: shots that unexpectedly veer to one side, having picked up some small impurity from the ice surface.

"The big thing that — as ice makers — we look for is consistency. And I think the players do, too," Bourassa said. "As long as it's consistent all the time, they'll start making lots of shots."

Jamie Bourassa prepares to follow one of his crew members down the ice during a practice session at the Canadian Tire Centre on Nov. 30, 2017. (Trevor Pritchard/CBC)

'There's a sense of pride'

Bourassa and his team will have to on their game all week, as there are 18 men's and women's teams vying to represent Canada in next year's Olympics — and the winners won't be decided until Sunday.

He says he puts his whole heart into his vocation — in the same way that such Canadian curling luminaries as Brad Gushue, Kevin Koe and Ottawa's own Rachel Homan do.

"We get up, I feel, probably the same way they do for a big game. It's the same thing for us," Bourassa said.

"I've been doing it for over 40 years and I still love getting up every morning and come and do what I do. [There's] a sense of pride, right? You come and try to do a good job for the curlers."

Jamie Bourassa uses this device to inscribe perfect circles in the four curling sheets that are being used this week at the Olympic curling trials in Ottawa. (Trevor Pritchard/CBC)

Jamie Bourassa stands next to some of the equipment he uses to keep the Canadian Tire Centre ice in pristine condition during the Olympic qualifying tournament, currently taking place in Ottawa. (Trevor Pritchard/CBC)

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