Curling Canada announces sweeping changes to game

Curling Canada’s return-to-play guidelines during the spread of the novel coronavirus include notable alterations to sweeping and player positioning on the sheet, all part of protecting physical distancing for the 2020-21 season.

The recommendations, part of a document released on Monday, have been made so that two teammates aren’t hunched over a rock, their faces just inches apart. Just one sweeper will be used while the other player stands back and only watches.

But one of Manitoba’s finest skips believes that the change is little more than window dressing.

Mike McEwen says he appreciates the efforts of Curling Canada to get players of all ages and abilities on the ice in the way as safe as possible, however, he doesn’t understand the move to allow only a single sweeper. He wonders why prohibit close contact during gameplay tries to ensure the safety of curlers while teammates can still hang out in close quarters during the rest of the time?

Another change prohibits sweeping of an opposition rock behind the T-line in order to avoid a crowded house. New markings will be made to indicate where players on the non-throwing team should be stationed at the same time the opposition is tossing their rock. McEwen figures on-ice communication will be affected.

Curling Canada’s director of curling club development and championship services Danny Lamoureux said the guidelines, which are now available on the Curling Canada website, are not carved in granite.

They were created as a how-to guide for curling clubs to safely operate this season, including everything from on-ice play and building cleanliness to customer awareness, financial planning and insurance, food and beverage plans. They also show a rundown on how national championships should be staged.

However, the guidelines don’t say if fans will be allowed inside arenas for major championships or not. Competitors will be asked to sign waivers and could undergo testing at big events.