October 28th, 2020

Sweeping changes coming for 2020-21 curling season


By Woodard, Dale on July 10, 2020.

Dale Woodard

Lethbridge Herald

sports@lethbridgeherald.com

There are some sweeping changes coming to curling -literally and perhaps somewhat figuratively.

As they get set for another season on the pebbled ice in addition to dealing with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Curling Canada announced some on-ice changes Tuesday, spacing things out mid-game to keep things safe and sanitary.

The document on the federation’s website covered topics including game play, building cleanliness, food and beverage plans, customer awareness, financial planning, insurance and national championships.

The most notable changes involving the games included the use of one sweeper during games, not sweeping the opposition’s stone behind the tee-line and new markings on ice for non-throwing team members to be stationed.

However, Lethbridge Curling Club general manager Kirk Mearns said the dimensions of a sheet of ice and the basic mathematics of a two-person sweeping team won’t make rule changes seem so dramatic when it comes time to hit the hack.

“I think curling is in a pretty good spot because we have a very large playing surface and not that many people on the playing surface,” said Mearns. “So we can easily social distance people from each other. I guess with a little common sense and a few directional dots on the ice just to give everybody a sense of where to stand.”

And given the sweeper closest to the rock accounts for most of the rock movement in a two-person setting, the shift to one sweeper shouldn’t be much of an adjustment, either.

“One person gets to take a rest,” said Mearns. “Most people, when do they an analysis of sweeping, the first sweeper is really doing 80 per cent of the work. Adding a second sweeper at that point really only adds about 20 per cent more effectiveness. It’s a big gap between the two and obviously the closer to the stone you sweep, the more effective you are.”

Even having to leave an opponent’s stone behind the tee-line won’t be a game-changer.

“The sweeping of the opposition’s rock once you get behind the tee-line and you try to sweep the rock out, it’s a minor thing in the full scope of the game,” said Mearns. “It’s a pretty small thing.”

Still, there will be some changes at the 10-sheet facility on the west side.

“We’re going to have to do some things,” said Mearns. “We’re going to stagger some start times. So not all 10 sheets will start at the same. We’ll stagger them 20 minutes part just to take congestion out of the lobby. That will be for all our leagues.”

As far as traffic on and off the ice, Mearns said the Lethbridge Curling Club has that taken care of.

“We have a pretty good eye on what we’re going to have to do. We’re going to open the first week of October and leagues will go as normal,” he said.

“We want to keep (the lobby) uncongested. We want people to be able to come in, get their shoes on and get onto the ice. Don’t wait around -move onto the ice and know what position you’re playing. We’ll post who is playing where and do a lot more online so before people come they’ll not only know what time they’re playing, but what sheet they’ll be playing on.”

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