WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA9) -- Jaime Gibson has his hands full: "From 3 o'clock on we're pretty much trying to figure out what the game's gonna be."
It's two hours before the Washington Capitals and Carolina Hurricanes face off -- hockey heaven and mayhem all tied into one. Capitals fans will look down from the packed arena and surely focus their attention on the 200 by 85 foot slab of ice. What they see as a rink, Gibson, the Assistant Director of Operations at the Verizon Center, sees as a quadratic equation.
"We have the humidity, the temperature in the building; we also have the outside environment that affects us inside," stated Gibson.
Meet the Verizon Center's Ice Man. Gibson is part of a team who's responsible for ensuring the Verizon Center ice is ready for game time. How? It's a world of sport you don't often see. Deep in the bowels of the arena is a labyrinth of pipes, pipes and more pipes.
"It's just like a big refrigerator," said Gibson.
A gigantic compressor cools a refrigerant, which in turn freezes the concrete slab that ice goes on top. "Our surface temperature of the ice is around 20 degrees," shared Gibson.
But what if the mercury starts to creep up? "Then the ice starts to get a little softer," replied Gibson.
Uh-oh! That's not good in the world of hockey.
But that's not all he has to worry about. Gibson's got to make sure the ice gets its pre-game manicure with the you-know-what: the Zamboni! Just don't call it a Zamboni.
"Is there a difference?" I asked him.
"Ours is called an Olympia. There's a difference: brand," said Gibson.
But what exactly does the Zamboni, er, Olympia do?
"You'll see us spinning a wheel on the back, that's to adjust the blade, we're cutting it (ice) smooth and putting another layer of water on it," explained Gibson. That water freezes immediately, all in an effort to keep the ice about an inch thick.
I jumped on and took a spin with him. "Can you let me drive?" I asked.
Gibson responded with a laugh. Not a chance. This job is too important to let amateurs play around.