Curling Federation implements sweeping changes
Adrian McMorris, CONTRIBUTOR
Curling fans will soon see a strange similarity among their favourite competitors — they’ll all have the same brooms.
Last month, the World Curling Federation approved a policy standardizing curling brooms from material to colour. Curlers must use the new brooms in all WCF-sanctioned competitions.
The new regulations come after last season’s controversies and the curlers’ desire to solve the problem in a fair and efficient manner, said Al Cameron, communication and media relations director for Curling Canada.
The so-called “broom gate” happened because the WCF lacked broom regulations, said Shannon Birchard, a Winnipeg curler on the World Curling Tour.
“There were no defined rules in place, it all fell within a bit of a grey area. The standardization eliminates the possibility that the rocks can be manipulated as they were previously,” said Birchard. Birchard captured a gold medal at the U-18 Optimist Internation- al Curling Championship in 2011.
Controversies arose when curlers saw rocks move in a way they hadn’t seen before. The broom controversies of the 2015-2016 season resulted in some heated arguments between coaches, players and officials, said Raunora Westcott. Westcott is the lead on Team Englot, a Winnipeg-based team on the WCT.
Canada’s National Research Council (CNRC) investigated the curlers’ claims and found that materials and techniques in sweeping could alter the trajectory of the rock, greatly changing its direction. These materials could turn a bad shot into a winning shot, placing the outcome of a game on the sweeper rather than the thrower.
The CNRC said it would be in the best interest of the sport if outer fabric coatings, inserts, foil, and ridged foam weren’t allowed in the construction
of brooms. After a series of tests, the CNRC identified Nylon Oxford 420-D as a broom fabric that did not drastically change a rock’s movement.
All brushes will now be made from a single fabric, weave, coating and even colour, says the WCF. Cameron, Westcott and Birchard agree that the new regulations have been embraced by the curlers.
“Everyone wanted to move forward to bring the sport back to what it was intended to be,” said Cameron.
The new brooms will be on display in Kazan, Russia at the World Mixed Curl- ing Championships from Oct. 14-22.