Recap: Women's world curling championship in Swift Current, Sask.
CurlSask director says more and more world teams are emerging as medal contenders
This year's women's world curling championships provided drama throughout the tournament in Swift Current, Sask., including the final day that saw both Canada and Japan lose their respective games on their final shots.
To recap all of the tournament's action, CurlSask executive director Ashley Howard joined Sheila Coles on The Morning Edition.
Howard said the "curling was spectacular, but there was maybe some questionable sweeping," referring to a technique known as directional sweeping.
"As we're all learning it as athletes, there have been different situations where we've got four people brushing a rock. Maybe the skip will be coming out to sweep, instead of a more seasoned second stone or front-end sweeper," she said.
The technique is a big deal, because it can yield 13 feet of curl, as opposed to the traditional four feet, Howard said. "In a game where we're trying to make a shot so well, we're seeing quite a few mistakes come from this."
Emergence of stronger world competition
Howard said a big change that this year's tournament revealed is the emergence of teams that can compete with and beat Canada, unlike times in the past.
"I remember in my junior days, Canada may have had one or two difficult countries to contend with for a medal. Now, we're seeing a very, very strong field."
Case in point: Switzerland, Japan and Russia, the top three finishers in this year's competition.
"I think the sweetheart of the entire event is the Japanese team. Curling is really growing in Japan. We heard a viewership of two million watched the Japanese play," she said. "I think Japan would be my stand-out country as they emerge."
"Of course the final," Howard said. "To see the emotions of victory for the Swiss ... On the flip side, the disappointment for the Japanese that they fell just one shot short, and broke so many hearts."
Possible ice problems
Howard said she thinks the ice maintenance team "did a fantastic job with the ice."
But she noted that "what I heard from some of the curlers is difficulty with draws and difficulty with the speed [of the ice]." Despite that, she said the "overall level of curling has gone up."
What's next for curling fans?
She was also quick to note there's more curling to watch on the way: this year's Canadian wheelchair curling championships are happening in Regina next week, from April 4 to 10.