New rules for curling nix broom moves that were changing the game
Curling Canada adopts rules set by international curling body
Curling Canada has endorsed new rules that effectively outlaw recent innovations — new sweeping techniques and broom technology — that had radically altered the game.
"A standardized fabric (material, weave, coating and colour) will be adopted for use in all championship events," the organization announced Sunday, noting that the curling world had been examining the issue for several months.
Curling was meant to be played a certain way.- Al Cameron
The move comes after a 2015-16 curling season which saw players and observers debating the merits of an innovation that cut to the core of curling: how a rock glides along the ice.
"We saw sweeping techniques and outcomes on the rock that had never been seen before in the history of curling," Al Cameron, director of communications for Curling Canada, said Sunday. The controversy had become known as "broomgate" he said.
"Everyone was in agreement that what was taking place on the ice simply wasn't in the spirit of curling," he said. "Last year we were finding that sweeping was being used to make a rock curl more and make it stop or slow down. And that's just not what sweeping is about."
Studies were conducted by National Research Council Canada examining the sweeping innovation after it was noted in 2015-16 that directional sweeping was becoming more pronounced with brooms introduced that season.
Essentially, stones were curling far beyond expectations. In some cases it was possible to have a stone swept off the sheet altogether.
Rule in effect right away
Cameron said the current curling season has just started and the rule change applies specifically to Curling Canada events and events that count as points for team rankings by Curling Canada.
"The big thing coming out of it is that broom heads will now have a standardized fabric," Cameron said, adding that the standard fabric will be similar to those used prior to 2015-16. "This fabric gets us back to the tradition of sweeping, which is designed to keep a rock straight, prevent it from curling as much and to carry a rock further."
- EXTERNAL LINK: NRC Testing of Curling Brooms (Executive Summary)
- EXTERNAL LINK: Curling Canada - Sweeping Moratorium on Brush Head Technology
Cameron said there was a broad consensus that returning to more familiar brooms was in the best interest of the game.
"It was unanimously agreed that the situation was not acceptable," he said, adding people were not keen on going down a technology path that changed a fundamental aspect of the game. "Curling was meant to be played a certain way and that's basically what everybody agreed."
Cameron said players were concerned that last season's sweeping innovation would diminish the importance of well-directed shots.
"At the end of the day, curling is still about making shots," he said. "The shot-maker, the thrower, is the person who is primarily responsible for making that shot."