Mark Messer is UCalgary’s resident “icemeister,” charged with making the world-renowned rink at the Olympic Oval perfectly chill and enviably fast. Indeed, speed-skating ice needs to be harder than that of other skating rinks, and Messer has the skills and magic to make it happen. He has travelled to Olympic games around the world to ensure other ovals have the ideal “clarity and gleam” to produce record-breaking skating speeds. Recently in Beijing to make precision ice for the 2022 Winter Olympics, Messer shares some things about himself that confirm what we already knew: he’s a steady minus-8 degrees Celsius-cool, just like the home ice he tends to.
If you could do anything for a living, what would it be?
A professional golfer would be great, but that’s way outside of my skill set. I think, if given a choice, I would still get into some sort of skilled trade. Maybe an electrician. I like working with my hands and troubleshooting. I am also enjoying moving toward more of a knowledge-sharing role.
When and where were you happiest in your life?
One of my happiest memories is of a family vacation we took to Disneyland many years ago. Our kids were at a great age where everything was still new, and they weren’t afraid to try new things. More recently, I would say a trip to Nice, France, with my wife. We stayed in a small apartment, blocks from the Mediterranean, and had a rare opportunity to sit back, drink a little wine and disconnect from the world.
Who or what has had the greatest impact on the person you’ve become?
Definitely my parents. I learned a lot from them about commitment, doing the best you can and doing the right thing, even though it might not be the easiest. My wife and kids have also influenced me to re-evaluate priorities; hopefully, not too late.
What do you like most about yourself?
I think I like myself more now that I have had an opportunity to evaluate and start to shift priorities, and I like that I am finally doing that.
If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
Northern Italy. I was there a couple of years ago researching some products and loved it. I would go in the summer and spend a lot of time on patios enjoying the views, the people, and the food and refreshments.
Describe the most beautiful place you’ve ever been.
Again, northern Italy. The rolling hills, the vineyards, and the mountains are so beautiful in the summer.
When you’re restless or unhappy, what do you do to improve your mood?
I hop on my bike and ride around the city. Find a couple challenging hills to make my legs burn and get rid of frustrations. But I need to slow down a little more and enjoy the views as well.
Current guilty pleasure?
How many can I list? Ice cream, a good wine, and a real cold beer on a sunny deck after a round of golf. And my wife’s cooking.
Who or what in life brings you the most joy?
Relaxing in my back yard, with family and friends. There haven’t been enough opportunities to do that before, so I appreciate it a lot more when I can do it.
If a song played whenever you entered a room, what would it be?
It should probably be “Ice, Ice, Baby”, based on my life. But a lot of people would probably say I more resemble “Boy inside the Man” from Tom Cochrane. I act like I’m 12 years old sometimes