Since 2012, thousands of recreational and elite level curlers have chosen to play with and enjoy the many benefits of the icePad. In 2014, two high profile elite teams – Mike McEwen and Reid Carruthers – chose the icePad and both teams had highly successful seasons. Since then, dozens of other elite teams have chosen to play with the icePad and even more teams have approached us for sponsorship. All icePad players have raved about the effectiveness of the icePad.
In recent weeks there has been an elite-level-player movement to remove so-called “directional-fabric” brushes from the elite-level of play only, including, unfairly, the icePad. Some claim that with the power of elite-level sweepers, they have the ability to direct the curling stone, or control it like a “joystick.” This group has brought some unwarranted claims that anyone playing with the icePad has an unfair advantage.
First, we strongly disagree that the icePad cover has directional-fabric. Our fabric is diamond-shaped and not uni-directional. Second, we further disagree with the term “unfair advantage.” “Unfair” would indicate that the icePad is not playing within the rules of curling, which is not true! “Unfair” would mean that not everyone could play with it when, in fact, the icePad is available for anyone to use and play with. However, if one chooses not to play with it that is their choice.
Part of this player movement is to enact regulations on what brush fabrics are acceptable. Since there are no regulations for fabrics currently in place, and the icePad was approved for play based on today’s rules on equipment, how can anyone claim our fabric is unfair? The icePad DOES NOT damage or alter the ice in a significant way! In fact, one of our primary marketing messages for years has been that OUR COVERS DAMAGE THE ICE LESS than any of the other fabrics currently on the market.
At the last WCT event in Toronto, a few select teams came out with an extremely abrasive directional fabric that damaged the ice to the extent that opposing players were unable to make shots. We believe that this abrasive brush went against the rules of curling and was used only to try and prove a point against Hardline Curling and the icePad. From the Curling Canada Rules for General Play for the 2014-2018 season, from article 15, section 1: “A player shall not use footwear or equipment that may damage or affect the playing quality of the ice surface.” This is exactly what this new fabric did and therefore IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN DEEMED ILLEGAL and been removed from play.
Hardline Curling believes that all of this trumped-up controversy has been engineered by a small group of players, acting on behalf of their equipment supplier in order to stop the loss of its market share to Hardline. This is nothing other than corporate bullying. We believe that the laws of this country afford us the right to compete in a fair and open marketplace. In fact, Hardline loves competition. We believe that if equipment companies have the innovative ideas to put out equipment that stays within the scope of the rules, then this can only help grow the sport. Since the 1990's, there have been two major changes in brush technology: the introduction of the oval swivel head brush and the icePad.
If it was felt that the icePad provided an unfair advantage, why were these issues not brought up in the last three years when the icePad has been on tour? Why was this not brought up during the off-season in order to give suppliers a fair chance to adhere to acceptable standards to the elite players? Why should Hardline have to incur extra costs to supply our players with replacements when we have done absolutely nothing wrong? WHY DID CERTAIN TEAMS ON THE CURL CANADA LETTER APPROACH US FOR SPONSORSHIP THIS PAST SUMMER IF THEY THOUGHT THAT THE ICEPAD WAS AN ISSUE?
We are in full agreement that “directional-fabric” brushes to control stones have no place in the game of curling at the elite level. We believe that the WCF should hire an independent organization that has no affiliations with any equipment supplier. Parameters should be set as to what is and is not acceptable. Equipment suppliers should be allowed to be present for all testing. Equipment suppliers should be given access to all data acquired during testing. We want any future rule changes to be fair with no bias towards one supplier over another.
This has been a huge distraction to all elite teams, but especially to our Hardline teams who have taken unwarranted criticism when they have done absolutely nothing wrong within the current rules of play. To question the integrity of Hardline athletes who use the icePad is totally unacceptable.
Hardline also wishes to clarify the fact that the icePad is still approved at all levels of play, whether you are a club curler, Junior, Senior, Master and at all Provincial, National and World events.
Hardline Curling has received tremendous support over the last few difficult days. The support is very much appreciated, and the vast majority of curlers can see exactly what is happening here.
Hardline Curling, President