Study the photos! They illustrate a practice which has now been identified as inappropriate in the sport of curling. I apologise to those in the pics, as I don't mean to single out these potential 'offenders' from the many in Scotland last season, from Juniors through to Masters. But the photos illustrate a new rule which was passed at the Royal Club AGM last Saturday.
It replaces the rule which said, "No player shall use footwear or equipment which may damage the surface of the ice." The new regulation says, "No player shall cause damage to the ice surface due to equipment, hand and/or body prints."
Taking photos of curlers and curling this past season I have seen fingers and hands on the ice frequently. And those that play at the highest level now recognise that this can damage the pebble, leading to an increased number of picks, the scourge of the game. Curling's administrators have moved to legislate against the practice.
The new rule has now been adopted for Scottish curling, and Colin Hamilton, the Royal Club's Competitions Manager, has confirmed that the regulation will also be in the new World Curling Federation rulebook, which is eagerly awaited but has yet to be published.
So, if you offend, what are the sanctions? They are severe. The RCCC rulebook now says, "A player may be ejected from a game if continually breaking this rule: see 6 (b) under Royal Club Competitions General Rules and Conditions Dispute & Discipline."
It will be interesting to see how stringently the umpires in Scotland and at International events will enforce it! Will we see players being sent off next season?
Top: Ice technician of the year Tom Brewster, and Mary Barr. Above: Claire Hamilton, Kirsty Letton, and Warwick Smith. Photos by Bob Cowan and Richard Gray.
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