Curling Controversy – High Tech Equipment Impacting Low Tech Sport
If you are not familiar with the sport of curling you probably won't be impressed by it. Personally I think the sport was probably born of bored goat herders who might have been drunk and cold and were looking for something to do. The sport is similar to horse shoes except instead of throwing "U" shaped shoes at a pole, contestants slide huge rocks on ice toward a target.
Curling is an Olympic sport and I am fascinated by it. Most people just see the slow pace and the big rocks. I see velocity, angles, friction, speed, physics, talent, and gamesmanship in every contest. This rather low tech sport is currently under fire by advancements in curling gear.
In particular there is a concern about the high tech sweeping brooms that curling teams use to help guide the rock on the ice. The brisk sweeping of the ice in front or to the side of the moving stone can influence the track of the stone toward the target. Think of how a bowler might throw a hook ball at the bowling alley and curve the ball into the pins for a strike.
It seems the curling brooms that are available to teams now are too efficient. These brooms can really influence the movement of the stone toward the target. Many curling teams feel that takes a lot of the touch and talent out of the player's ability to slide the stone. Many teams have come out against the new brooms and thus a controversy has been born.
We will see if that controversy will be settled by the 2018 Olympics in South Korea. While curling may not be big in South Louisiana it is quite popular in the northern United States, Canada, Europe, and other countries where sliding things on frozen lakes might seem like a fun thing to do.