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Curlers keep close relationship with rocks at Scotties: ‘Not every rock is cut the same’

Curlers keep close relationship with rocks at Scotties
WATCH: Curlers at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts pay close attention to each and every rock they throw.

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.

“I do a lot of things [from the bench]. Trying not to be nervous is a tough one,” Kreviazuk said.

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.

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Curling Canada uses three sets of stones that travel across Canada for events.
Curling Canada uses three sets of stones that travel across Canada for events.

“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.”

READ MORE: Team Saskatchewan wins first Scotties Championship Pool game over Team P.E.I.

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.

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Sweepers Joanne Courtney and Emma Miskew at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Moose Jaw
Sweepers Joanne Courtney and Emma Miskew at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Moose Jaw. Allison Bamford / Global News

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.

“[These rocks] are starting to get a little too wide,” Ewasko said.

“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.”

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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.

Scotties Tournament of Hearts super fan
Scotties Tournament of Hearts super fan

Team Ontario’s second, Joanne Courtney, said 75 per cent of her job is “sweeping and managing rocks in the right space.”

“It’s my job to map what the sheet is doing for speed,” Courtney said. “[We’re] just trying to learn off every rock out there to get all the information we can and make our best guess as possible.”

Courtney’s front-end partner, Team Ontario’s lead Lisa Weagle, has a similar role.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan curler Aly Jenkins remembered during Scotties Tournament of Hearts

“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.

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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.