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Sportsmanship Alive and Well in Curling

Congratulations to Northern Ontario’s Oye-Sem Won Briand (vice) and Chris Briand (second) on winning sportsmanship awards at Canadian Mixed this past weekend (team photo above).

Nugget Column #09 – Tuesday November 17th, 2015

In a world where technology is advancing as rapidly as human interactions are depleting, there continues to be numerous displays of sportsmanship in the game of curling that would indicate that perhaps this world has a fighting chance after all… just as long as everyone would learn to curl.

Even in light of the sport’s most significant technological advancement, one that threatens the true spirit and integrity of curling, the players have taken the high road.

“The teams listed below are making a proclamation that in the spirit of our sport and what it has always stood for, we will not be using directional fabric during WCT events, CCT events or the Grand Slam of Curling…”

This is how a statement released and signed by twenty-two elite curling teams began while addressing their concerns of new “directional fabrics” that appear to be able to manipulate the speed and direction of a curling rock in ways that most are not comfortable with. After all, if a rock can be slowed, made to curl, or made to fall back (as presently cannot be accomplished); the best players in the game will cease to be rewarded for skills that it currently takes to makes great shots: sliding accuracy, weight control, and line calling.

While none of the sport’s governing bodies have introduced new rules on broom technology, some events have been subject to provisional guidelines, and an official ruling is inevitably forthcoming. In the meantime, many of events have only provided a recommendation to their competitors, and curlers have respectively defaulted to non-controversial products when they by no means have been required to.

Anyone that was following the women’s championship at the Grand Slam of Curling Sunday night was surely witness to the sort of sportsmanship that defines curling and the people that play it.

In the seventh end of a tie game, in a Grand Slam final, Team Homan was drawing to the button for one point with hammer against one, and maybe two, opposition stones belonging to Team Fleury (formerly Horgan) of Sudbury. When Homan came up short, her sweeper pushed the questionable second counting stone belonging to Team Fleury out of position as to clean up the house for the next end. What that player didn’t think of, in the moment, was that Team Fleury was going to measure that stone – as they very well should when two rocks are as close as they were, and an additional point in that situation would significantly affect the outcome of the game.

Although rules dictate that Team Fleury would have the option of taking two points considering that the opposing team made it impossible for a measurement to occur, the reigning Northern Ontario champions elected to take only one, claiming that to the human eye of both teams Homan’s rock appeared to be slightly closer and that they acted in a manner that they would have wanted should the roles have been reversed.

Entering the final end down only one with hammer, Homan constructed a deuce and won the championship. It was difficult to watch, never mind experience first-hand. But you have to hand it to curlers and to Northern Ontarians; sportsmanship is not lost on them.

Bobby Ray General Manager North Bay Granite Club

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