By Håvard Vad Petersson 2017-03-31 09:16:20
Last year was a crazy one for everyone involved in high level curling. Most teams were more worried about owning the best possible brushing equipment then they were about sliding straight. Last year you didn’t have to throw it straight anyway. However… it was a great thing to happen to the sport of curling. It taught us so much about sweeping that we didn’t know despite so many great players competing for so many, many years. Most of all, it forced the World Curling Federation to implement new and very strict rules. As a curler I am very grateful to Team Gushue for not trying to hide anything once they figured everything out on a hot summer day in Korea many months ago. A lot of teams, including my own, would have been very tempted to hide findings like that. Team Gushue could easily have had both brushes down on their hits, and the second sweeper – located further from the running stone – wouldn’t have put any pressure on his brush. It would have been an easy cover-up, and I’m sure they could have kept it going for a long time. And why was this a great thing for curling? Because now we are all using the same material on our brush heads, and we now know just how different the pads we were using really were. I was lucky enough to be a part of the sweeping summit in Ottawa last spring, and it was shocking to see the differences between the brush heads the top teams had been using from 2010 until last fall. In particular, the durability of some of those brush heads on the market was simply spectacular compared to others. Between the 20 best teams in the world we had all kinds of different advantages that we just didn’t know we had. Now we know that we’re all using the same stuff. Of course, some teams are using different strategies with one and two sweepers, which I personally just find entertaining. So we’re all using the same stuff now, which is great, but are we happy with the material we are using? Some think it wears out a little too quickly, some think they don’t offer enough durability. Some think they’re great. They are most definitely a lot harder to sweep with compared to the waterproof stuff we’ve been using the last five or six years, which means we have to be fitter than ever to have an impact on our shots. That, of course, is also a great thing. I think the material is good, but I think curling might need a “Plan B” brush head. I’m talking about frost. A lot of big curling events are still being played on frosty ice. And it seems like the frost is bugging us even more now than it used to do. These new pads are definitely less effective on frosty ice, and the biggest problem is that the frost just doesn’t seem to go away like it used to. It would be very hard to find a material that is more effective in removing frost from the sheet without doing all the crazy stuff that we saw last year. Anyway, I think curling should try and find an alternative material that makes us look a little better when championship conditions get too frosty. There might be more summits in the future, and sooner or later the fabric roll we are all using now will run out… Mixed Doubles When speaking about brushes, how about this idea for mixed doubles. I think we should give the mixed double players (God bless them) a more effective brush pad! Yes, get some foil in there! Give those brushes a couple of extra feet to work with! I know curling is a game of misses, but when watching mixed doubles I feel like misses is everything I see… and more effective pads would add a little extra flavour to things and we would see a few more made shots made. That is, in my opinion, what mixed doubles needs. It will be extremely interesting to see if mixed doubles will be a success at its first Olympics. I really hope it will be, but at the same time I’m afraid it will show the world that making shots isn’t as easy as it looks when the best teams in the world play each other the following week in PyeongChang. Five-rock rule It’s coming everybody! It will be a revolution in our sport! People will stop watching hockey and football, because curling will get so much more exciting! Maybe not, but the five-rock rule is coming. It might not gain us thousands of new fans, but it will make our game a little more entertaining for the fans we already there. Put the hack on the centre line! This is not happening soon, but I think it should at some point. When it does happen – sometime after I retire – I will probably look back at all those in-turns that over-curled on me over the years. Anyway… I believe that curling at elite level is in a great place. We’re seeing younger and younger teams winning the big events, and at the same time we’re seeing players pushing age 50 do their share of winning too. You don’t see that in many other sports. Another plus is that curling is getting more and more television time… it is being played in more and more countries… and with mixed doubles debuting at the Olympics less than a year from now (!) we will definitely see some of these new countries going really hard at our sport. That is, certainly, the great thing about mixed doubles; although it will never be as entertaining to watch as the good old traditional curling games, it could be a draw for new participants. Follow on Twitter @haavpet
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