October 26, 2016 6:44 pm
Updated: October 26, 2016 7:03 pm

Curling broom controversy leads to sweeping changes

WATCH ABOVE: A recent curling technology summit has resulted in changes to brooms for professional curlers. All teams must now use a standard broom head fabric that won’t allow players to manipulate the rock. Global’s Kevin Smith reports.

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Curling is undergoing sweeping changes and the game’s top players are happy that the skill of throwing a rock is back at the forefront of the sport.

In recent years, the material used in curling broom heads scratched the ice and those grooves allowed the game’s top players to sweep and steer the rock as if by remote control. That led to tensions between teams and a recent curling technology summit which resulted in a standard broom head fabric that is being used for the first time at a Grand Slam Curling event this week in Okotoks, Alta.

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READ MORE: Curling broom brouhaha brews ahead of Canadian championships

All curling teams must now use the exact same broom head fabric. Emma Miskew, the long time third for Rachel Homan’s Ottawa rink, is happy with the changes.

“It’s a less abrasive fabric, it doesn’t scratch the ice like the other fabric does so it’s back to heating up the ice, melting the pebble a bit and making the rock go further and straighter,” she said. “If you throw it bad you’re probably going to miss now whereas if you threw it bad last year you could fix the shot with the fabric on your broom head so it’s a little bit more of a precision shot-making game now which is what we wanted.”

READ MORE: Canadian curling world swept up in ‘broomgate’

Swedish skip Niklas Edin said the skill of throwing a good rock has returned and so too has friendly competition.

“I think it’s really good. I think it’s what needed to happen for our sport. I’m pretty surprised it didn’t happen sooner,” he said. “Last year was a gong show, really difficult for everyone and harsh words were spoken between the teams and that’s not what we want to see.

“This is a friendly sport and we’re all friends out there normally so it’s back to where it should be. It’s exactly what we want to see in our sport. We don’t want the materials to win.”

These broom head changes will allow the best curlers in the world to steer clear of controversy this year.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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