Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Curling's Newest Technology May Create New Rules

            Within the past weeks, a new technology has emerged that has caused a major debate in the curling community.  The new technology, often called “directional fabric,” apparently has the ability to change the sport entirely.
            Although this technology was never intended to be sold, it was recently used in competition which created an unfair competitive advantage.  Over forty elite players from a recent tournament gathered to sign a petition to ban this technology.  Another important effect of this technology is that it may force the sport to create new rules.  Curling had no previous rules banning any sort of technology as long as it did not intentionally damage the ice, but that is now being reconsidered.  This new technology works by carving tiny grooves into the ice, as opposed to just reducing the friction between the ice and the rock, allowing players to steer the puck more easily and even slow it down.  Interestingly enough, the first prototype broom was created by simply reversing the nylon cover on the broom head.  This allows the waterproof coating on the back of the nylon to come in contact with the ice, and the player to steer the rock more easily.
            This article really got me thinking, “Is technology advancing too quickly?”  Curling was originally played with brooms to sweep away snow from outdoor rinks, but with modern technology players are able to steer the rock with extreme precision.  This may make the sport more exciting to watch, but is this “directional fabric” the end of advancements in curling?  If they are planning to ban this fabric then people will ask why they still allow nylon covers at all.  Curling would be no fun to watch with just regular brooms, so the real struggle seems to be finding the correct balance in technology.  It seems comparable to baseball, and how players are not allowed to use certain types of bats.  However, if curling technology does come to a halt, sports that are making use of modern technology may overtake curling and make it obsolete.  Many physical sports, such as American Football and Hockey become more exciting to watch, because players often get hit hard.  New technologies in these sports help to prevent injuries such as concussions, permitting the sports to become increasingly physical. On the flip-side, if curling technology stops advancing spectators may view the sport as outdated and too easy, and therefore stop watching.  It is very difficult to predict the effects of “directional fabric,” but just as new smartphones replaced old landlines, we may see new sports begin to replace old ones.



  1. I feel as though the sport of curling shouldn't be affected at all by this new technology as long as it is adopted by the entire sport of curling. While right now this new technology is seen as an advantage, wide spread adoption of this technology will heighten the game to a new level of competitiveness. To use your example, hockey sticks, since the sports creation, have been made of wood, but over the years small improvements in the material used, such as hockey grip tape or carbon fiber sticks, has improved the sport; bringing the skills of hockey players up a level, making for better games. This is the same case with curling games, I remember watching the Sochi games in 2014, the great curling teams such as Canada, Norway, or Sweden would usually beat lesser teams pretty handedly, it took until the quarterfinals for the games to get interesting to watch. A technology such as "directional fabric" could level the playing field for other countries and lead to far more interesting games to watch.

  2. I think this is extremely interesting. My parents and I love sitting by the fire and watching curling in the Winter Olympics. Personally, I would still continue to do so even if they did or did not use this new fabric. Contact sports may seem more prominent in the United States, but curling is still prominent in countries that the person above mentioned (Canada, Norway, Sweeden). Furthermore, if this technology is available to everyone, then I don't think anyone would want to ban it. Most importantly though, I do not think that advancements in technology (such as this) change the fact that there is still a level of skill needed to do well in the sport. The material may make it easier, but it still does not do all the work for you. With more practice and familiarity to this new material, the players can adapt and will still work as hard, but will be able to choose greater results. The only issue I could see is that perhaps this material is too expensive that not all teams could afford it; however, that is something that comes with all pieces of equipment and cannot be changed.


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