World Curling to ban hi-tech ‘Frankenbrooms’

Scottish curlers such as Eve Muirhead will retain their trusted traditional brooms. Picture: Tom J Brydone
Scottish curlers such as Eve Muirhead will retain their trusted traditional brooms. Picture: Tom J Brydone
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Curling’s governing body has imposed a ban on controversial new brushes.

The brooms have outraged many curlers because they use hi-tech, stiffer bristles that make the job of the sweeper much easier.

Now the Perth-based World Curling Federation (WCF) has taken the decision to ban the new brushes – dubbed “Frankenbrooms” by some fans of the sport – for the entire 2015-16 season.

The ban came into effect just days before the 2015 European championships in Esbjerg, Denmark, where two Scottish teams are competing.

Traditional curling brooms feature a smooth woven fabric, used to brush ice in front of the moving stone to direct it to its target.

Curling was invented in Scotland and a women’s team, lead by Rhona Martin and using old-fashioned brooms, won gold at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.

Ahead of the opening matches on Thursday, the WCF said there would be a “moratorium” on brooms with “fabric which has been textured, sealed or modified from its original woven form”.

The WCF added: “This includes fabric which has a woven appearance but which has had a PVC (or similar chemical) waterproofing treatment applied over the woven surface, effectively sealing the outer side of the fabric in contact with the ice. The statement made it clear that teams competing at Esbjerg had been made aware that the ban was a possibility, giving them time to acquire the correct brooms for the event.

The new wave of curling brooms have been at the centre of a controversy.

The row came to a head on 14 October, 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”.

Outrage in the curling community caused the WCF to impose a last-minute temporary ban on the new broom for the Pacific-Asia Championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan earlier this month.

But the new ban will last “for the remainder of the 2015-16 season or until such time as the WCF Board determines otherwise”.