Sweeping to Victory?

One thing missing here in the U. S. of A. is good media coverage of our favorite sport.

There are some great publications in Canada, but they're just now starting up for the "Season" while we never stopped for the summer.  The Curling News publishes November through April.

Last "season" was news of new broom technology developed at the University of Western Ontario, and used by the Canadian Women's Olympic team.

According to rumors (which is about all we have) elite Men don't benefit much from the new brooms because of their strength, while the Women were twice as effective.

The (patented) idea is pretty simple: put a strip of reflective material under the broom face, and reflect any heat generated while sweeping back toward the ice.  The reflected heat polishes (melts?) the ice more, and the stone goes farther, curls less.

Balance-Plus has an exclusive license to the patent, and plans to bring them to market "real soon."

... and the controversy begins.

Goldline questions the "trickery" behind these new brooms, and worries that the brooms will wear the ice so quickly that the pebble will be effectively gone by the end of a match.

That's one reason given for the fact that Team Bernard had the new brooms, while Team Martin didn't.  Others say that the front-end on Kevin Martin's team were producing enough "heat" without the reflectors that it just didn't make a difference.

Rumors say that Kennedy and Herbert were able to strip the pebble too effectively, making the ice unreasonably slow after the first few ends.

Balance-Plus, on their website says that the EQualizer Brush Heads use less aggressive fabric, and actually wear the ice less.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.  It's either an amazing advantage for the club curler, or it's a threat to curling ice everywhere.

If you think they're right about the new brushes, you can cast your ($30) vote at BalancePlus.com.

I'm not at all sure.  UWO's Tom Jenkyn's research says sweeping does not warm the ice enough to melt, so reflecting heat back at the ice shouldn't matter.

As for companies, I'm playing on BalancePlus shoes, with a Goldline composite broom with either a Goldline or Performance pad.

Posted November 9, 2010