Alumni Curling Researchers

The United States curling team at the Turin 2006 Winter Olympics. (Credit: Feddar/Wikimedia Commons)

Brandon has a proud and prestigious Alumni community with members from all walks of life. The Alumni news letter came out for the 2016-2017 winter season, showing off some of the big accomplishments of BU Alum members.

One of the biggest stories in the magazine was two professional curlers who were working on the research of how curling brooms and methods of sweeping are changing the game of curling. Both Alumni members, Nolan Theissen and Dr. Christa Homenick are avid curlers, but over the years have been noticing some serious changes with the way the game is played and not in a good way. Both Alumni are hard at work to help the sport of curling, pointing out the unfair advantages that some brooms hold over others. Namely the technique and types of brooms that are sweeping rocks down the ice. Certain brooms now-a-days have far more control over the path of the rocks compared to others. After noticing these changes to the brooms and games, the researchers lobbied a complaint to the curling governing bodies to make changes.

For those of you who are unaware, the sweepers on the ice sheet are not just sweeping to keep the ice shiny for television. They are both removing debris from the path of the rock and heating up the ice to reduce friction so the rock can go straighter and further. Sweeping is a huge part of the game and it is the chemistry between shooter and sweepers that allow trick shots and fancy plays to be made.

The WCF (World Curling Federation), with Dr. Homenick and her team of researchers, were able to work alongside Theissen and other athletes to prove that types of brooms, colours of brooms, and certain techniques all changed the placement of the rock. They sent their findings to the WCF with recommendations and found their suggestions implemented right away to help the sport. Dr. Homenick said “The curlers needed to bring things back so it was actually about their athleticism again and their skill.” The outcome of a game should not be dependent on the type of broom stick.

To read the full story please go to the Brandon University website, and read under the section news, BU Alumni News Winter 2016-17.

Republished from The Quill print edition, Volume 107, Issue 24, March 7th, 2017.