(curling.zone) 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 industry standard.
Hardline Curling Broom Head
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 the handle
- 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.
2016: Hardline’s 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.
Introducing the 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.
2019: BalancePlus Litespeed RS
Starting this season, the Litespeed Head has two pad options:
- traditional Litespeed Pad
- RS 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.