Proposed WCF curling rule changes now under consultation

As the sport of curling tries to forge a new path and win over new fans, proposed rule changes by the World Curling Federation are creating quite a stir in the granite world.

Proposal includes change to thinking time, no tick shots, no extra ends in round robin

The WCF proposed three trial rule changes for the upcoming men's and women's world championships in an attempt to bring in a new audience, but they are still in the consultation phase. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

As the sport of curling tries to forge a new path and win over new fans, proposed rule changes by the World Curling Federation are creating quite a stir in the granite world.

In early September at the WCF's annual general assembly, a "Maximising the Value Working Group" proposed three trial rule changes for the upcoming men's and women's world championships if approved by members — all in an attempt to bring in a new audience, specifically a younger demographic.

The rules, quite simply, include:

A change to thinking time: instead of 38 minutes per game, it's proposed that there will be four minutes per the first five ends and four minutes and 15 seconds per the last five ends.

WATCH | Gushue, Weagle discuss potential changes on That Curling Show:

Lisa Weagle and Brad Gushue break down some controversial rule changes proposed by the World Curling Federation

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That Curling Show returns for a second season and curlers have opinions about the rule changes that impact them the most. 1:17:29

No tick shot rule: if a stone is touching the centre line within the free guard zone it may not be moved off the centre line by an opponent's stone until after the fifth stone of the end has been played.

No extra ends in the round robin stage: instead, the games will be determined by a single draw to the button by both teams.

It seemed as though these rules would be implemented at the upcoming worlds, however, Graham Prouse, World Curling Federation Vice-President, Americas, says they are still in the consultation phase.

"These are not in place currently for the men's and women's world championships. They're proposed," he said during That Curling Show.

"While those rules are out there and there's been plenty of comments on it, and I'm glad to see people so passtnateoin, it's yet to be decided."

Prouse says these rules are proposed to entice new broadcasters in countries around the world to start showing curling.

"We're trying to reduce the resistance from new countries to take curling or existing partners to take more curling," Prouse said.

Easier to sell

Prouse says the current model of a curling game makes it difficult to fit in a broadcast time slot. He believes these rules could make the length of a game more predictable and easier to sell.

"The idea is to try and package it in a way that it fits into a broadcast framework. What can we do to protect the integrity of the game but at the same time make it as interesting as possible to broadcasters and audiences around the world?" he said.

"You have a certain timeframe and you're trying to fill it. Curling is unique in that it can end early or go long. That's a challenge for us as we try to fit a broadcast into an allotted time."

While many curlers are happy to hear the WCF is trying to grow the game, they're also feeling left out of the conversation.

"I think all of these decisions are based solely on TV and I don't think it's the proper way to go," said Brad Gushue on That Curling Show.

"If the product is good enough, the TV is going to make room for it. I don't think we should cater just to TV. I think some of these measures are drastic."

'Too much at stake'

Gushue says he doesn't mind the tick shot rule, but the other two? He can't wrap his head around them.

"I don't like the four minutes per end. Everyone who played in it at the Canada Cup everyone felt rushed. It was just a disaster. From a viewer's perspective having those conversations and strategy, that's probably one of the most interesting parts of the game," Gushue said.

"The extra end thing is just foolishness. If you want to go to a shootout you have to go with all four players. Oftentimes a skip can go four or five ends without throwing a draw. It's just too much at stake. The thought of applying this for a world championship is just mind blowing."

Prouse says there will be six to eight weeks of consultation regarding the rules. He says that consultation will include hearing from the WCF Athlete commission, Competition and Rules Commission, Member associations, marketing and broadcast partners and the general public.

"There is still opportunity for members and athletes and the general public to weigh in," Prouse said.

The final decision will be made by the WCF board.

WATCH | Curler donates lifesaving kidney to opponent:

The ultimate selfless act: Curler Charles Gagnon donates lifesaving kidney to opponent Adam Freilich

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The two curlers normally compete against each other in local bonspiels, but when Adam Freilich went into Stage 5 kidney failure almost two years ago, Charles Gagnon answered the call. 9:37

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