Curling Canada puts up a guard, urges beginners to wear helmets

The group responsible for curling in Canada says it wants novices and children who curl to wear helmets.

Inexperience and sheets of ice are seldom a good combination

Clubs have largely been responsive to the idea that new and young kids curling for the first time should wear some protection. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

It isn't written in stone that all new curlers at clubs in Canada have to wear helmets, but Curling Canada is certainly recommending it.

Following its annual meeting on the weekend, Curling Canada announced its policy encouraging curling clubs to ask new players to wear a helmet in their house.

The groups says it's also "strongly" recommending that curlers under 12 wear protective headgear.

Al Cameron, director of communication and media relations with Curling Canada, said the policy does not make helmets mandatory.

"We can't mandate anything for our country's curling centres — they operate as independent operations. They can follow the rules that they want," said Cameron.

Having been around the sport for 30 years, he said, he has seen concussions in the sport.

"I mean, it happens. Ice is slippery ... it's a pretty easy combination," said Cameron. "It's just a matter of keeping our curlers safe."

So far, many clubs have been quick to embrace the the new recommendations, several having already implemented similar policies. 

Wes Czarnecki, general manager at Regina's Tartan Curling Club, said they already have policies in place regarding helmets.

"Our kids Fun Curl and our Curl for Kids programs — both of them we require, or propose the helmets," said Czarnecki. 

New generation of curlers at the Tartan Curling Club on a Friday night. (Nichole Huck/CBC )

Even though the recommendations are geared toward younger players, Czarnecki says he see's older players donning helmets.

"They're pretty cognizant that as they age, balance and other issues come in to play and from a safety perspective it's something that just makes sense," he said. 

Czarnecki, a seasoned curler, admits that even after playing more than 100 games this past season he still had some falls.

"I still can count a handful of times that I fell on the ice, so depending how you fall, the situation you're in, it can definitely be dangerous," said Czarnecki. "So something like a helmet for novice players makes sense."