Like any curler, Team Ontario’s alternate Cheryl Kreviazuk has to have a great relationship with the rocks.
The only difference: she’s usually the one behind the hack, instead of in it.
Nerves aside, Kreviazuk has an important job. She’s constantly tracking stones — how they move, the speed and the curl — thrown by her teammates and opponents.
“Tracking what other teams are throwing might help to choose what order our team is going to throw,” Kreviazuk said.
“Not every rock is cut the same … each rock does react slightly differently, so it’s about finding what pairs the girls really like to throw.”
Curling Canada uses three sets of stones that travel across the country for different events.
“Over time, from one coast to the other coast, the rocks jiggle in the boxes and it actually polished them up to a point where they won’t curl,” said Greg Ewasko, co-chief ice technician for the 2020 Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
To ensure the rocks curl, Ewasko said members of the ice crew will “texturize” the stones before each event, sanding the running surfaces down to millimetres.
“At the next event we’ll have to work on the rocks just a little more to bring them back to the six millimetres that we want.”
It doesn’t take much to throw the rocks off, which is why a team’s front end does just as much tracking as the alternate.
Team Ontario’s second, Joanne Courtney, said 75 per cent of her job is “sweeping and managing rocks in the right space.”
Courtney’s front-end partner, Team Ontario’s lead Lisa Weagle, has a similar role.
“I’m always watching the other team and their shots, trying to map the ice and see what different speeds are doing, how different lines are running, so I can give the best information to my teammates and help us make the next shot,” Weagle said.
If, and when, it comes to championship Sunday, teams want as many advantages as they can get. Because, at this level, one rock can make all the difference.