How To Be The Coolest Zamboni Driver
February 3, 2012 by staff
How To Be The Coolest Zamboni Driver, Gary Smart is the self-described “weekend Zamboni guy” at the newly renovated Pitt Meadows Arena in B.C.
Saturdays and Sundays, Smart works a 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. shift at the three-rink facility on Bonson Road.
This part-time gig is on top of his Monday-to-Friday occupation as a foreman at BNSF Railway, a company he has been employed with for the past 36 years.
Driving Zambonis started out as a part-time job to help supplement the family income, but has since blossomed into a passion for the married father of a 30-year-old daughter and 21-year-old son.
“You can upgrade as you go, there’s lots of schooling that you can take,” Smart said. “You don’t just drive the machine; you’re also responsible for the ice building and maintenance.”
So what makes a good Zamboni driver?
“Passion and patience,” Smart noted. “If you really care about making good ice, you’ll drive the machine properly, and know how to use its tools to your advantage, to do what you do – and that’s put good ice out there for your customers.”
Smart said driving Zambonis is “like a nice glove,” especially at Pitt Meadows Arena, which he believes has the best ice in the Lower Mainland.
“Seeing the kids smile at you, waving at you – just the feeling you get from making good ice and having people compliment you, and running a good ship and working with good people,” he said.
Exactly two years ago, Smart was cleaning sheets of ice at an event of a much larger scope than, say, your average weekend kids hockey game.
Smart was among those tasked with cleaning the ice at women’s hockey games during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.
Smart worked six of the 11 games on the Olympic women’s ice hockey tournament schedule, including the Canada/Sweden match-up. He said the Winter Games was an experience that will resonate with him for the rest of his days.
“It was phenomenal,” he said. “I have memories that I will share with my family and friends; I have memories of the week I spent there that are unbelievable. It was wonderful.”
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