THE WORLD Curling Federation, based in Perth, has banned controversial “Frankenbrooms” from this year’s Pacific-Asia Championship.
The 2015 Championship kicked off on Sunday in Almaty, Kazakhstan, with thirteen of the hottest curling teams in the world competing for the much-coveted men and women’s titles.
But on Friday the Scotland-based WCF issued a last-minute ban of controversial modified brooms which many experts believe are undermining the integrity of the sport.
Traditional curling brooms feature a smooth fabric, used to brush ice in front of the moving stone to direct it to its target.
But a new wave of so-called “Frankenbrooms” feature a rougher fabric, which many say makes the sport so easy that it erodes the need for actual skill.
The new wave of curling brooms have been at the centre of an ongoing controversy which some sports fanatics are dubbing “Broomageddon.”
The furore came to a head on October 14, when 22 top teams from across the sport signed a statement saying that they would not use brooms which sweep with the new “directional fabric.”
The strongly-worded statement – penned by Team Canada lead Nolan Thiessen – declared: “Numerous teams throughout the world have done testing on various broom fabrics and have noticed beyond a reasonable doubt, with visual video evidence, that these fabrics can affect the path of a rock to an extent that we are not comfortable with in the tradition of our game.
“Strong sweepers who have put in the effort to get bigger, stronger, faster, biomechanically sound and more athletic should be rewarded, not the team with the best technology.”
“We want the skill of curling to determine who wins and we want the teams who’ve put in the hardest work to win.
“We don’t want the teams with the best technology and whoever sponsors who to win.”
And now the WCF has issued a sweeping statement to temporarily ban the brooms from the Pacific-Asia Championship whilst they decide on a more permanent stance.
The statement, issued from their Perth office on Friday, reads: “A moratorium on the use of brush heads constructed from fabric which has been textured, sealed or modified from its original woven form will be enforced for the 2015 Pacific-Asia Championships.
“Also, only sweeping equipment available for sale to the public at retail outlets will be permitted within the boundaries of the field of play.
“No modified, custom made or home-made sweeping equipment will be allowed during the 2015 Pacific-Asia Championships.
“This is an interim decision of the WCF Board and applicable only to the 2015 Pacific-Asia Curling Championships.”
The Perth-based WCF was formed from the International Curling Foundation (ICF) in 1991, after a push to have the sport included in the winter olympics.
The ICF was originally created in 1965 after the success of the Scotch Cup series of world championships held between Scotland and Canada.
The WCF currently governs 54 member associations, covering nations from Andorra and Israel to Liechtenstein and Wales.
The current world champions of the sport are the Swedish men’s team and the Swiss women – and the 2020 world championship is due to be held in Glasgow.