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Thursday, November 19, 2015

My broom also works as a rectal thermometer - here let me show you!

Broomgasm has finally reached its zenith this week, with a somewhat confusing statement from the World Curling Federation.
Without releasing any testing data, the WCF has extended their ruling essentially banning Hardlines used on the right side (not inverted) at all WCF sanctioned events for the rest of the season. They also have suggested that we now need to take out the clear plastic sheet in the broomhead. I think. I have read the statement twice, and not being an industrial engineer - I am not really sure what all of this means.

Some other highlights from the statement:
  • Brooms need to be “Commercially available” as of this week. So if you are making your own broomheads in your basement – they are banned too! Although I am not sure what the definition of Commercially Available” is. If I make broomheads with sandpaper in my basement, but show that I sold one to a few guys at my curling club – is this “commercially available”?
  • The fabric now has to be directly on a cushion. So no more plastic, wood, titanium, kryptonite or uranium inserts in the head that could affect the ice. I think this might include foil – but to be honest I am not sure. (unless you are an industrial engineer – the statement is a bit confusing).
  • No Hardening or Stiffening agents are allowed. I guess this means no more Viagra, Cialis, oysters or Generic imitations are allowed in your broomhead.  They may still be consumed orally by your sweepers, but if their sweeping lasts for more than 4 hours, they should consult a physician.

Seriously what does all this mean?
My read in that the WCF is buying some time, because they still do not know what to do.  They have found some bizarre scientific way of defining how a Hardline is manufactured in order to ensure that they are banned  unless used inverted.
However their statement is rather confusing. I think it also means that the Norway Pad, the EQ pad, the new Performance Head could also fall under this ban, depending on how they are made. Do they have plastic (or any other material) inserts? I really don’t know.
I am hoping the WCF can put out some kind of translation for teams – listing which commercially available heads are allowed – and in what manner (inverted or not – with plastic inserts or not). Until then, I am just a bit confused.

So what does this mean for those of us still sweeping with Hardlines?
I have prepared this helpful guide for Hardline customers all over the country, with some handy responses you can use if somebody accuses you of cheating.
Club Curlers: 
Keep using your broom – on the right side. The ruling only applies to WCF sanctioned events, and is really just a temporary measure because they do not know what else to do.
Response if someone calls you a cheater:
“Yes – I am using a Hardline, and it is an awesome broom. As a matter of fact, it also works as a rectal thermometer! Let me show you.”

Tier B -  Competitive Curlers – but not at WCT level
If you are playing somebody for money, or playing in a playdown to get to a National Championship, I think you need to invert the fabric.
Response if someone calls you a cheater: 
“To comply with the rules, I am using my Hardline Inverted. The same way I used YOUR MOTHER inverted last night at the hotel!” Extra effective if you say this with a Sean Connery Accent.  
(just kidding – so please do not flood my comments section saying that this joke is inappropriate. I already know it is)

Elite-Level Competition:
If you are playing for a lot of money – or at a Provincial level or higher. You will need to invert your fabric – or use the new complying heads that Hardline has made available for WCT teams.
Response if Someone Calls you a Cheater:
“Yes, my broom does amazing things. It also works as an ASSHOLE DETECTOR.” *then point your broom at the accuser and make beeping noises with your stopwatch.

Some things that I have learned in all this:

Sweeping technique matters. We always knew that corner sweeping and snowplowing worked – but now we have shown that if you do it with a more abraisive broomhead you can better manipulate the rock. Most competitive curlers have known this for a while. (Before Hardline existed, Glenn Howard’s team essentially invented the “Switch” because of this, so that the guy sweeping on the high side could influence the rock and make it curl more).  Snowplowing or dumping has always been frowned upon, but now seems to be fair game. Maybe we need to bring back some of the sweeping technique rules against corner-sweeping and snowplowing that used to exist in the rulebook.
A  lot more people than I thought make their own heads. I have been surprised to find out how many competitors modify or manufacture their own broomheads. As of today – they are now out of business – if they are playing in any serious level competition. So you can toss out all of those custom made heads, and be prepared to send some $$$ to the recognized manufacturers.

Regardless of what type of broom you use, we are in this situation because a few people are using brooms in a way against the accepted physics of the game.

If you are switching heads or brooms between shots , if you are using a broom that you believe is damaging the ice or if you are sweeping to make a rock stop or to make a takeout curl, you should stop doing this. It is against the principles of the game, and makes everyone look bad.

Mary-Anne Arsenault called out a Hardline team that was doing this last week in Ottawa. I think she makes a compelling point. However – I hate to tell you Mary-Anne, but I have played against a few teams this year who are using the same techniques with non-Hardline brooms. If you have a broom with an abraisive pad, and you corner sweep high side with the curl, you can make a hit curl a bit more!

A Closing thought.
This has not been fun.
I really take it quite personally when people call into question my integrity. I had the pleasure of having a World Champion call me a liar to my face, and suggest that my team was not good enough to be as effective sweepers as they were. (btw – the asshole detector in my broom started beeping at this point).  I am hoping this statement will at least provide some temporary closure on the accusations and bullshit that has been levied at the Hardline teams.

Me and my Hardline broom are off to Charlevoix next week to compete in the biggest spiel in Quebec, and I am seriously looking forward to it. This is my first year back, after 4 years off (due to the Mixed Nationals, and getting elbowed in the throat last year just before the tournament!)  Prior to this – this tournament has been my “bĂȘte noire”, a tournament that I just could never do well in. If I had put the money that I have spent in Charlevoix in an RRSP, I would be able to retire at 55, (instead of my current estimate of NEVER).
I have given sufficient time for the curse to have lifted! I have sacrificed a live chicken, and a virgin (hard to find in the curling world!). Thought about sacrificing my firstborn, but I am kind of fond of him. We have performed the appropriate rituals.  

Gods of curling – pray for us. Amen.