Over the past year, the Canadian Curling Association, World Curling Federation and the World Curling Players Association found some agreement on a number of issues of mutual interest to all three.
The first was the draw to the button to determine who has the hammer at the start of each game. Here’s how each group is dealing with that challenge in 2009.
WCF: The world body is using the draw-the-button approach to determine the hammer and it takes place at the start of practice. If it’s a tie, the flip of a coin is used to break it. But the WCF’s new draw-shot-challenge format differs from previous years. At the start of each game, each team throws one rock to the button. All pre-game draw-to-the-button measures are tabulated and, at the end of the preliminary round-robin draw, are turned into a team total, based on the best 10 of 11 pre-game shots. The accumulated distance number, rather than the draw-shot-challenge, is used to break any unsolvable ties at the end of the round robin.
WCPA: In World Curling Tour and Grand Slam events, the draw to the button takes place at the end of the practice session and both teams complete the draws at the same time. If a tie occurs, a second shot is delivered.
CCA: The CCA has both teams draw the button after the practice session in all Season of Champions events. In the event of a tie, the pre-event draw-shot-challenge is used.
In the past, the length of breaks between ends had been decided by the television networks. However, the WCF and CCA have set time limits for this season.
CCA: Breaks between ends are three minutes and the break following the fifth end is eight minutes.
WCF: Breaks between ends are two minutes and the break following the fourth end is five minutes.
Time-outs have been a concern for some time because of the length of time added to games that are already too long.
CCA: The CCA is trying to reduce the length of time for time-outs by marking them from the instant a time-out is called. At championships where coaches have easy access to the ice, like the Brier, time-outs are about 80 seconds. At events where coaches are inside a waiting-room area, like the Juniors, they are 100 seconds. The time is monitored only on the team that calls the time-out; the opposition can enjoy the time-out but needs to work in sync with the team that called it. Also, only one person – either the coach or alternate – is allowed to join each team in the ice area.
WCF: The WCF is continuing to use time-out procedures it has employed in recent years. Each team is allowed two 60-second time-outs in a 10-end game and travel time above and beyond the 60 seconds is allowed for coaches to arrive at the ice area.
This season, the CCA and WCF are continuing to allocate 73 minutes of playing time per game for each team. The WCPA is continuing with reverse timing at all of its events this year. Reverse timing virtually means that the actual time between shots is measured rather than the actual game playing or rock travel time. The WCPA feels this approach works very well and uses about four minutes per end, or 36 minutes for an eight-end game. Both the CCA and WCF are continuing to analyze this approach, with the possibility of incorporating it after 2010.
Another major concern is the habit that some curlers have of placing their hands and knees on the ice after delivering a rock. Though no official decision had been made at the time of this program’s printing, it will need to be addressed in the future. The use of faulty grippers, sliders and brooms will also be dealt with by all three groups by 2011.
The big issue for discussion by the CCA and WCF in the years ahead will be the consideration of moving from the 10-end championship game to eight ends (8). The WCPA is again incorporating the idea in all of its competitions in 2008–09 and there is little question that debate will start soon within the CCA and WCF to consider a similar adjustment post 2010. There is little question that the pressure to keep a curling game within a three-hour time frame is growing and with television taking 12 minutes per hour for the insertion of commercials it is becoming more and more difficult to squeeze a 10-end game into that time frame.