New Broom Rocking the Curling World uses Physics to Give the Advantage

Trevor English

Most of the time you probably don't care about the sport of curling, but when the winter Olympics come on, it is time to watch those stones slide. Believe it or not, much of the physics behind how curling works aren't agreed upon by the scientific community, and there are two leading arguments as to how sweeping effects the stone's movement. While those arguments rage on, there is a new broom that has taken the curling world by storm, and it has officials saying it gives the sweepers too much control over the movement of the stone.

curling stones[Image Source: Wikimedia]

The new broom is called the icePad, manufactured by Hardline Curling, and the controversy isn't that the broom is cheating, but rather that it shifts the fundamentals of the sport that has existed for ages, according to Gizmodo. Curling usually requires quite a bit of skill, believe it or not, and much of the power to direct the curling stone is typically placed on the shoulders of the thrower. The sweepers then sweep in front of the stone to direct the stone on target based upon how the stone is currently moving. Even with the sweepers being able to alter the stone's course, most of the significance of each throw is relegated to the sportsman who makes the initial throw. On the other hand, this icePad gives a lot of control to the sweeper, allowing him or her to take nearly all control.

So what's the big deal? Well, much like how full-body super suits were banned in swimming as they gave an advantage to athletes wearing them beyond the point of normal athleticism, officials believe that the icePad decreases the skill curling athletes need to have to succeed in the sport, according to the NY Times.

CURLING sweeping[Image Source: Wikimedia]

Curling ice isn't just any ice, in fact, it is pebbled with tiny droplets of water, then scraped smooth to allow for the perfect surface for the curling stones to slide on. What the icePad does is isolate the friction in front of the stone in a way that gives greater influence over the stone's direction.

The World Curling Federation is expected to vote on the use of this new friction-isolating device later this year. This debate comes in the wake of the even greater question of how we should allow modern technology to affect age old sports.

SEE ALSO: This Startup is Creating a Man-made Meteor Shower for the 2020 Olympics

Add Interesting Engineering to your Google News feed.
Add Interesting Engineering to your Google News feed.
message circleSHOW COMMENT (1)chevron
Job Board