Order of The University of Calgary for Mark Messer

By Jeff MacKinnon / Speed Skating Canada

Check out the release from the University of Calgary

Mark Messer came to work at the Olympic Oval in May, 1987 to help get the facility ready to host 1988 Winter Olympics’ speed skating competition and he has never left. He has gained a reputation worldwide as a premier ice man during that time.

So, for the man who oversees ice that has seen countless world record times recorded since it opened, the clock is now at 27 years, two months and counting. That’s how long Messer has been at the Oval.
For his years of dedication to producing ‘the fastest ice in the world’, Messer have been honoured today during convocation exercises with the Order of The University of Calgary, which recognizes those who have a history of distinguished service to the university. 

“It’s a huge honour but it’s not just for me. I get to be the figurehead for all the guys who have worked there over the years,” he said.

“I’m the lucky one who gets to travel and see a bunch of the world and represent the university all over the world.

“This falls on me and I’ll take it, but it’s not just me, that’s for sure.”

Messer arrived at the Oval from the Saddledome as an ice technician and he’s now the plant manager. His reputation as a top ice maker got him gigs as advisor or consultant with all of the Olympic Winter Games organizing committees since 1988, with the exception of Albertville in 1994. That includes serving as ice maker at the 2010 Games in Vancouver, which may have been Messer's toughest challenge over the years because of the humidity created by hosting the event on the coast, along with extra TV lighting brought in just prior to the competition.

Messer and his crew of 11 ice technicians (six are full time) make the ice that serves as home for Speed Skating Canada’s national long track speed skating team and some members of the national short track team; the Oval program’s own skaters and the grassroots clubs as well.

Messer has celebrated many, many world records at the Oval over the years, including four individual times that have held up for almost a decade: Norwegian Eskil Ervik’s men’s 3000m mark from 2005; Dutch great Sven Kramer’s men’s 5000m and Czech Republic’s Martina Sablikova’s women’s 10000m standard, both from 2007; and Canadian star Cindy Klassen’s women’s 3000m world record set on March 18, 2006, which remains fresh in Messer’s mind.

“That was an unbelievable weekend,” he recalled. “I don’t know what it was but everything came together at the right time. (Cindy) was just on fire.”

“I think I made little plaques for all the guys in the back — kind of a team picture. I’m not sure if it was that weekend or another but we broke 11 world records in a three-day stretch one weekend.”

“You’ve got to be pretty proud of that.”

Klassen considers the Oval ice the best she has skated on during her legendary career.

"He was always so passionate about his work and that the Oval is home to so many world, national and personal records says a lot about Mark and his team of ice makers," she said.