We are going into the second year of the pandemic. Unlike our hopes, the curling season 2020/21 has ended for most European curlers very early. Our last blog post dates from Octobre 2020 and tells about the frustration of Swiss Curling because of a new lockdown. We at curling.zone asked one of the leading men in the curling industry, Goldline’s Vice President Andrew Brett, to give us his views about the situation and the future.
Corona hits Europe again after a relatively calm summer. Curling restarted everywhere. Now a few countries like Slovenia and the Czech Republik are under full lockdown. But one of Europe’s largest curling nations, Switzerland, surprised on Friday, Octobre, 23rd.
Canton Bern, comparable to a state, decided
To minimize the spread of corona infections, the regional government of Bern has ruled a full range of measures.
Kanton Bern, Mediarelease – Translation by curling.zone
Part of the measures is a lockdown on all sport and fitness centers. The lockdown went into action only a few hours after the media release on midnight of the same day.
In Biel a curling tournament was interrupted and cancelled as a consequence.
Tom Seger from SWISSCURLING: “We are puzzled”
curling.zone talked today in an exclusive interview with Tom Seger, CEO of SWISSCURLING.
In a first reaction he told us, how surprised he was, when he learned on late friday afternoon of the decision in Bern. While he states full support for all measures leading to a safe environment for sport, he seems not to be convinced of the necessety to act on such short notice. He points out, that SWISSCURLING has been working with all important parties on safety concepts. He is convinced that the resulting set of rules would allow safe sport. Seger would go no further in commenting the situation because of the ongoing, fast moving situation. Coming Wednesday, Bundesrätin Viola Amhert, (member of the Swiss government/minister) will meet the sport associations at a round table talk. Tom Seger asked us to relay his gratefulness to all who had been working to get this curling season going. He shares their frustration and expresses his hope for help from politics.
What is the Situation?
First, the lockdown is right now only in place in parts of Switzerland. These are regional, not national measures. In Europe most lockdowns during the second wave habe been local and restricted in length.
Second, the training can go on for all curlers who will go to the Olympic Games or belong to the Swiss national cadre.
The situation for “Euro Super Sterile” in Genf on Novembre, 3rd is completely open. The plan was to hold a series of four tournaments with the top European teams without spectators. Now the whole work of months is in peril.
Goldline has always been a company which liked to go new roads. Already back in 2015 curling shoes with sport shoe styles were brought to the market. This season Goldline has added vibrant colors to their newest curling shoes.
G50 Storm 5/32″
But let’s have a look at the more conventional new arrivals first. Goldline’s has built during the last years a complete new series: The G50. Goldline Curling CEO Andrew Brett shows us the G50 curling shoe series. The series has a variant for every level of play. The Swagger with two gripper sides, the Breeze with a 3/32″ slider, the Cyclone with 1/4″ premium teflon. And now this series of curling Shoes gets a new addon: the G50 Storm.
Like all shoes from the series, the lower part of the shoe is technically identical. With the exception of the slider of course. And here the Storm closes the gap between the competitive Cyclone and the club curler level of the Breeze.
G50 Fuego and G50 Azul
Using Spanish names for curling shoes seems to be a bit far off. In the first moment. But when you see these two beauties then you understand. Mediterranean feelings rise. With the Fuego in a red that might please Enzo Ferrari. And the Azul, the Blue One with a color resembling the deepest blue sky on a wonderful day in Marbella.
The G50 Fuego and the G50 Azul share the same technology at the bottom. Their sliders are 1/4″ of premium teflon. And that makes them fast. Very fast. Goldline gives a speed rating of 11. With traditional 1/4″ sliders as being speed 10. So red like a Ferrari or blue like a Lamborghini? It’s your choice.
A good sign of growing normality is the great line-up of new curling shoes and other products for this upcoming season. We let you have a look on what’s new and what’s interesting for curlers. curling.zone has spoken with the leading heads of the industry.
BalancePlus goes sporty & colorful
In Barrie, Ontario the team around the president Scott Taylor and Dale Matchett, the General Manager must be looking forward to the start of this season more than usually. BP has gone off the beaten track this season. A new shoe and far away from the conservative design, for which BalancePlus is wellknown. The 700 series presents itself very modern. It has a sport shoe style. A very sophisticated detail are the laces. Two pairs, red and gray, are delivered with every pair of shoes.
As we reported, Curling was hit worldwide by the Corona Pandemic. The various countermeasures had a huge impact on curling. The situation has improved. We look at the new curling season 2020/21 and see how Corona impacts.
The Canadian Curling Association is seen by many as a sort of leader. As such we think it makes sense to watch how the world’s largest curling federation will be dealing with the situation.
I’M PLEASED TO TELL YOU THERE IS A PATH FORWARD AS WE PLAN FOR THE NEXT CURLING SEASON … IN BRINGING CURLING BACK TO CANADIANS
How will the next Curling Season be safe for everyone?
The Guidelines were published on July 6, 2020 and are devided into several areas of action. They build on everyone within the curling community from officials to the players and also integrate the authorities.
The Basics Principles of living with the Pandemic
The guidelines build on the general rules with which we are all familiar by now.
stay home when you belong the a special risk group
stay at home when you have symptoms
Curling Canada urges players and curling centres alike to follow the rules and do everything to make it possible to follow the rules. This includes for the curling centres to update their cleaning protocol. Cleaning surfaces and providing sanitizing dispensers for example. Curling equipment should be cleaned after each use. But also organizing the traffic flow. One door for entry, one for exit, less chairs for the tables and so on.
Playing the Game
Many players around the world discussed, if and how rules might need to change. Here is what Curling Canada advises. In brakes always open doors for fresh air. The traditional handshake give way to a friendly wave. No coin tossing. The players should stay always on one side of the sheet to maximise distance to the next rink. The basic principles are to keep a maximum of distancing. This includes not to use the full capacity. But also to make events longer in order to have two starting times and less people in the ice.
Corona changes curling rules The most radical change is that only one sweeper is allowed. No relaying to a second sweeper and the skip is also banned from sweeping.
We should all be aware, how difficult the situation is for curling sport. If there are setbacks, the economic situation of clubs and the curling industry as a whole will be under even more stress. The officials face a difficult task. Defining rules for a safe game while maintaining the fun of the curling sport is a very big enterprise. And there is no example in the past to learn from.
Like here in Europe, the Curling Season 2019/20 ended also in Canada early. 2 days before the event, the WCF cancelled the World’s Women Curing Championships to be held in British Columbia. On March, 16th, Curling Canada issued a statement that ended the season in Canada:
Corona in Canada
Canada seems to have reached the peak of new cases around April, 22nd with around 1,800 cases per day and two weeks later the number of daily deaths seems to have topped short of 200. Since then both numbers are in decline. Actually there are 400 new cases and around 50 deaths per day, but still more than 32,000 active cases.
The Consequences for Public Tournaments
As we all know by now, “social distancing” is the main way the governments us right now to stop the virus from spreading. Concerning Curling Tournaments this has grave consequences for financing. Most tournaments need spectators to pay the bills. Empty stadions like we see it now in European football are in most cases not possible. Tickets are just one part of financing these events. From presentations of producers to booths of local dealers of curling supplies, there are many sources of money. Not to forget the kiosk that sells beer and hot dogs. Without these funds, it gets difficult. Very difficult. Events have to be planned long way and nobody knows, which rules will apply at the time of an event. Worst case would be an event cancelled on short notice, but all the contracs already done.
What’s the situation right now over the Atlantic?
That corona is able to strike curlers on the rink is not in doubt. Nobody has forgot how after a bonspiel in Edmonton 40 of the 73 participants tested positiv. Even more so, as it was an event for medical professionals. So how is it going to continue in the country where curling is a mass sport? One of the earliest events this upcoming season, the “Shorty Jenkins Classic” to be held in September in Ontario has already been cancelled. Already on May, 8th came the sad news whenGord McCrady Jr. posted:
The News is, that there are not many news.
The “Grand Slam of Curling” offers tickets for events from October, 20th – no word about the virus. Also Curling Canada goes on selling tickets for events from November onwards. World Curling Tour seems to have cancelled already some events. The Canad Inn’s on Octobre, 9th had, after having been cancelled in 2019 due to a storm, been cancelled again. But -to sum it up- so far, there are not many news. Most event organizers seem to wait for a clearer picture. And that is no surprise as Curling Canada still “looks at thing day by day” as their CEO Katherin Henderson told CBC in late May. Right now, there seems to be no plan, but a set of scenarios even for essentials like qualifications to the Olympics.
Jill Richard, the executive of Curling Alberta, has acted already. This upcoming season Alberta hosts the “Provincial Curling Championships.” News is, that instead of a men’s and a women’s event, there will be just one combined event in Calgary in January 2021. Hopefully this creates an event large enough to carry the costs and attract enough attention.
In a move coming as surprise to curlers and competitors alike, BalancePlus has
introduced a brandnew head system. The Litespeed RS changes radically with the
concept of traditional pads.
BalancePlus usually belongs to
the more conservative producers of curling supplies. Changes don’t come often.
But when they come, they have a decisive impact on the market and they often
make way for new trends in curling sport. When BP introduced in 2016 the
Litespeed head this was the case. Until then every major label used the
standard Performance head, invented in the 1990s by André Ferland. From the
first use at the Curling tournament in Brière in 2002 it started to become the
Until the moment BalancePlus came up with the Litespeed, there had been just one smaller lable been using a head system of their own: Hardline. Their brooms were fitted with a head using their very own “icePads”. Instead of using a pad that consisted of one part, the icePad consisted of components:
a swivel component or capture piece to fix the pad to
a pad consisting of
an inner foam piece
two plastic pieces
a replacement cover
The advantage was that only the
replacement cover needed to be exchanged. Unlike the traditional pads, where
the whole pad had to be exchanged. The disadvantage was that the change of the
replacement cover was a lot less convenient than the change of a traditional
pad. Hardline scored some success from 2014 with the introduction of the
icePad. The succes was due to the fact that it had a highly aggressive surface
and allowed curlers to influence the path of the stone more than ever before.
Success hits the Wall
Less than two years later, this was abruptly ended by the World Curling Federation. After a first wave of protests by icemasters, who claimed that icePads would damage the surface of the ice, things began to escalate. Curlers voiced concerns about gaining an unfair advantage by using Hardline equipment. It came to a point, where BalancePlus demonstrated that they were able to produce a pad with a surface that was equally aggressive and even gave it to some top curling teams. In late May 2016 the WCF held a “sweeping summit” which ultimatly led to the ban of Hardline’s icePads from WCF competitions. Sadly the ruling also banned pads that never had been seen as a problem. BalancePlus EQ, Goldline’s Norway Pad as well as Olson and Ashams competition pads were banned as well. The new WCF Pad with a single, standardized fabric for all producers was introduced and became for most competitions and bonspiels the only pad allowed.
Litespeed Broom in 2016
The season 2016/17 saw another revolution. BalancePlus introduced the Litespeed Broom. It was a radical change, because the Litespeed Head was incompatible with the Performance Standard Head. It was exclusively produced by BalancePlus. The Litespeed Head was much lighter and that was true for the capture piece as well as for the Litespeed Pad.
BalancePlus Litespeed RS
Starting this season, the
Litespeed Head has two pad options:
traditional Litespeed Pad
While the traditional Litespeed Pad was, like the Performance Pad, one piece, this changes drastically with the RS Pad.
The RS Pad has basically the same components as the icePad:
an inner foam element
two plastic pieces
a sleeve of fabric – the part that gets exchanged
One huge advantage of the RS Pad: it fits the capture pieces of all Litespeed Brooms. It comes in two width, 7″ (17,8 cm) and 9″ (22,9cm) and is fixed to the capture piece with two bolts. The bolts are exactly the same as for the Performance Head. So if you own a Litespeed Broom, you can change to RS without any problems.
BalancePlus Litespeed is very popular in Europe and there are many curlers using this broom system and that might be the fact, why RS will become very popular. Hardline never had a huge distribution in Europe. Spare parts were only available at a few, mostly small dealers. BalancePlus on the other side has a huge distribution in Europe and is widely available and -on top of all- builds on a very strong and well-known brand.
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