Broom restriction causes Laurier to switch strategies

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For fifth-year lead Fraser Reid and the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men’s curling team, the moratorium on hair brooms did not affect them on the way to winning the Canadian Interuniversity Sport championships.

The rink swept the Ontario University Athletics curling championships with a perfect 9-0 record, winning a gold medal. A month later, the same team had an overall record of 8-1 on their way to winning the CIS gold medal.

The difference? Broom heads.

The CIS followed in the footsteps of Curling Canada and banned the use of hair brooms for the duration of the tournament.

This decision came a week before the tournament began, which led to teams scrambling to decide what they wanted to do.

But during the OUA tournament, hair brooms were not banned from competition, which led Laurier to switch up their strategy.

“We had everything possible prepared,” Reid, a member of a dynamic sweeping team, said. “We had a broom bag at one point that had 15 brooms in it. It was going to be a heavy bag.”

The brooms come in two different parts, the handle and the head. Reid said the team used two BalancePlus EQualizer heads and then converted another BalancePlus broom with a Hardline head as their third broom.

Reid said the Hardline heads were the best at being able to make a rock curl, which is exactly what the team was able to do with the hair heads.

“We felt like by switching to the Hardline, we were able to make it curl better than a regular synthetic head like an EQ,” he said.

“We ended up getting a ton of heads just to make sure we had a ton of everything, both on the EQ and on the Hardline heads.”

Reid said it wasn’t a big deal that the CIS decided to ban hair brooms from tournament play, mainly because the team wasn’t 100 per cent used to the hair heads.

It was just a matter of trying to get the same quality of performance out of the synthetic brooms as the hair brooms.

“We did well at OUA’s and we were really good with them, but for us, it felt more natural for us to be using synthetic because that was what we used over the last few years anyway,” Reid explained.

Kelsey Rocque of the Alberta Pandas liked the idea of the rule put in place and the ban on hair brooms.

The Pandas use the Norway Goldline brooms during tournament play.

Rocque said the ban on hair brooms brought the game back to old-fashioned curling. It was a good thing that the hair brooms weren’t allowed to be used.

“I think it’s a great thing. It’s bringing precision back into the game,” she said.

“Hair brooms were starting to carve rocks pretty good. You were able to make shots that you weren’t able to make before hair brooms came into play.”

The CIS also implemented another rule, in which two teams were only allowed to have two brooms designated for sweeping. These brooms must be declared at the beginning of the game as sweeping brooms. This led to the team juggling brooms during each shot.

Reid said the team was surprised at the CIS decision to only allow two brooms as sweeping brooms for the entire game.

“At OUA’s you were allowed to use three,” he said. “But in the CIS championships, we were only allowed to use two and that was the most we could sweep with. So that was the bigger change, in our minds at least.”

Regardless of the new CIS rules, the rink was prepared with the decision the league made. It worked out in the end, as they still captured the gold medal.

And once they figured out what strategy they could use at the championships, their bag that once held 15 brooms, well, held less.

“We were pretty prepared assuming every option and then once we figured it out we could take some things out, which was pretty nice,” Reid said.

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