Thursday marks the end of three days of testing curling brush head technology in Ottawa to get some answers on the effect it is having on ice surfaces and the final positioning of stones.
This investigation is a joint project of The World Curling Federation and the National Research Council of Canada.
Over the course of the 2015-16 Curling season, moratoriums were placed on certain brushes due to their “perceived” effects on the ice and the path of the stone.
Former 2 time World Men’s Champion Jeff Stoughton of Winnipeg has never been averse to saying what is on his mind. Thursday Morning the 3 time Brier Champ told 680 CJOB the 2015-16 Curling season was a “gong show”. “This last year was an eye opener for everyone. It has gone from hopefully making some good bumper weight shots to you can’t miss,” said Stoughton. “And I think it has just gone a little too far. All of the competitive players and the teams I’ve talked to just feel that it’s becoming- and don’t take this the wrong way- too easy. I was able to watch a few games at the Brier and no one really missed. That comes down to what the brooms are doing.”
Stoughton went on to say that he left the game, just in time, when he retired at the end of the 2014-15 season. Especially with the advent of “directional sweeping.”It definitely impacts the direction of the rock- but the broom head technology is making it more extreme, where a normal rock would go down the ice and if you sweep it normally it would curl three feet,” said the 11 time Manitoba Men’s Champ.”And with these new brooms you could even make it curl five feet or you could almost make it fall back six inches. And it’s just making it too easy. And some of the brooms you can even make the rock slow down, which is not the intent of sweeping. So it was quite the issue in the fall.”
When the testing has been completed, the World Curling Federation will take those results and new regulations will be proposed for approval by the WCF Members at the Annual General Assembly which is scheduled for September in Stockholm, Sweden.
Stoughton isn’t sure what some of those new reforms should be. But he does have an opinion on some of the challenges that lie ahead. “You’re basically saying to broom manufacturers, that your broom head can’t be better than some one else’s because it’s not fair. So it’s going to be interesting to see what they come up with because as a broom manufacturer you want to say my broom is better, and if you’re not able to do that, where is the competition?”
So what if Jeff Stoughton was in charge? How would he handle the future direction of curling? “Well, if you want to put it back in the hands of the thrower and have the brushers be what they’re there for, you’re going to have to go back to something that is a little bit softer, of a head. They’re getting so hard, and what they’re calling directional sweeping is actually scratching the ice so you might have to go to a one inch or some foam insert where you don’t have the ability to scratch the ice but still carry a rock like you are today- five to eight feet for sweeping for a draw and you’re able to keep it fairly straight on a hit. And that’s part of where it should go. Now that’s just my opinion. There are other people who think sweeping should be more than that. But the skill is still whether you can throw at the broom with the right weight. That’s the skill of a thrower and the sweepers are able to help a little bit. And I think right now they’re able to help too much.”