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NOTE: This post was originally published in 2013
This week’s featured Goldline ambassador is the lead on the team skipped by Kevin Martin. Ben Hebert has achieved much success out on the curling ice, having won a gold medal at the world junior championships, 2 Briers, a gold and silver at the world championships, and a gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, as well as numerous other curling events and titles. The Martin team recently won the Alberta provincial playdowns, thereby earning the opportunity to play for another Brier title in front of a hometown crowd.
Ben was featured recently in the YouTube series “Cullen and a Curler”; check it out to see what Ben had to say.
We wish Ben and the rest of the Martin team the best of luck as they prepare for the Brier in Edmonton, Alberta in March.
If you weren’t curling what sport would you be playing?
Where were you born?
What is your current hometown?
What is your "real" job?
Business Development Rep/Focus Corp
When did you start curling?
12 years old
Who is your favourite athlete?
Where is your favourite place to curl?
What is your favourite food?
Where is your favourite vacation spot?
What is your favourite TV show?
What are you listening to on your iPod?
Who is your favourite curler other than yourself?
Who is your role model?
Have you ever been in a bar fight?
Who is your celebrity crush?
What is your favourite book?
Don’t read books
What is your favourite movie?
If someone wrote a book about your life, what would they title it?
If you could be anyone dead or alive who would you be?
Michael Buble.. Huge Stud!
What would you do if you had a million dollars?
I'd be John Morris!
Who is the best curler to follow on twitter?
What is your favourite sports team?
What is your preferred shot to win a game?
What is one of your favourite quotes?
“If we put it here, we win the Brier… What, you don’t want to win the Brier”
– Rob Harris 2003
What is your favourite body part?
I hate Loaded questions… Chest?
What is your favourite form of exercise?
If you could choose to stay a certain age forever, what age would it be?
25 was a good age!
What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
Juggling curling, work and wife!
Performance and Comfort Considerations for Curling Shoes
The Quantum integrated design system (I.D.S.) leaves behind the use of an adhesive to attach a slider and gripper to the sole of the shoe. The adhesive bond has been the standard for generations, however, in addition to delaminating problems, it has bound us to Teflon* as the only material that could be used as a slider. The Quantum employs an innovative mechanical attachment system wherein slider and gripper “disks” are snapped into strategically positioned receptacles in the sole.
The advantages of Quantum Discs are numerous:
Slider Thickness - slider speed increases with the thickness of the Teflon™, ¼” being the thickest and the fastest. Every curler should be looking for optimal slide with a minimum of leg thrust. For most curlers excessive leg thrust results in instability. Experienced curlers who are accustomed to the ice and do not have stability concerns usually prefer a fast slider, whereas less experienced curlers usually want to balance speed with stability. It is important to keep in mind that inexperienced curlers generally have low leg thrust and, if they are equipped with an excessively slow slider, the result will be an unsatisfactory delivery.
Hinged Front Slider - sliders that have a thickness of 5/32” or greater tend to be rigid, limiting any heel elevation during delivery. The Podium sole itself, not the slider, is designed to afford the appropriate degree of longitudinal flexibility. Rigidity also results in constant heel rubbing during walking. By splitting the front from the back slider and “hinging” the front slider, the negative effect of rigidity is eliminated on Podium Gold and Silver shoes.
Lateral Stability - stability during delivery is best achieved by distributing weight equally across the width of the sole. During delivery the natural tendency is for weight to be shifted to the outside of the sliding foot. The outsole on the Podium series is expressly moulded to incorporate a lateral stabilizer in the ball of the foot. The result is even distribution of weight across the slider, a wider balance platform and enhanced stability.
Warmth - insulation throughout the upper and air cushioning in the sole ensure warmth on all Podium models.
Comfort and Fit - careful attention to materials and design afford slipper like comfort from the first time Podium shoes are worn. Further, the Silver model is available in both REGULAR and WIDE fit. Unlike most curling shoes, ladies Podiums are built on specific women’s moulds.
Quality - most shoe manufacturing relies upon a high volume production line. Only high end shoes are still produced in lower volume “hand made” factories. The entire Podium line is produced in such an environment – guaranteeing careful attention to quality and detail.
In a curling game, players (other than the skip) throw only two rocks but sweep six others. The importance of sweeping cannot be underestimated! Good sweepers can make the difference between an average shot and an amazing shot. Given the importance of sweeping, it should come as no surprise that curling brooms (or curling brushes) are the second most important piece of curling equipment, ranking only behind curling shoes.
If you are like many curlers, you probably started off using a club broom that was available at your curling club when you took up the sport. But as you continue to play the game, you may be wondering whether it is time to invest in a broom of your own.
In choosing a broom, there are three key things you need to consider:
The broom handle, or shaft, is typically comprised of some combination of wood, fiberglass, and/or carbon fiber. And with such a wide variety of materials used, it leads to a broad range in the weight of brooms. Weight is key: the lighter the broom, the easier it is to apply pressure when brushing and the more effective a sweeper you will be.
Generally speaking, the greater the proportion of carbon fiber, the lighter the broom. At Goldline, we have two choices in handles. Our Carbon Fiber broom handles weigh between 170 and 200 grams (depending on the diameter of the shaft) whereas on our Fiberlite brooms (which are basically comprised of 65% fiberglass and 35% carbon fiber), the handles weigh between 270 and 300 grams.
If you’re just starting out, you don’t need to invest in a carbon fiber broom: a Fiberlite broom will already be much lighter than the club broom you’ve used previously. At some point, though, the logical choice may be to take the extra step and invest in a 100% carbon fiber broom.
Typically, broom handles come in different sizes to accommodate varying hand sizes. At Goldline, we offer 1” and 1-1/8” handles on our brooms. Which size handle you prefer is entirely a matter of personal taste; there is no requirement that women use a broom with a thinner handle while men use brooms with a thicker handle. When shopping, make sure to hold brooms with differing sizes of handles in your hands and determine which feels most comfortable.
In addition to the synthetic head Goldline has reintroduced a horse hair head this year, which is generally felt to be more effective on frosty ice, found in arenas and at televised events (where crowds and cameras combine to increase the frost on the playing surface).The vast majority of brooms come with a swivel head and a replaceable synthetic pad. This type of broom will be very effective on curling club ice. While the brush itself can last many years, the pads are replaceable and should be replaced at least once per season.
Once the choice of material, diameter of shaft, and type of head are made, the toughest decision remains: colour. At Goldline, we have a wide variety of colours available in both our Carbon Fiber and Fiberlite brooms. New colours this year include Metallic White in our Carbon Fiber line, and Steel and Ebony in our Fiberlite line. And if your current broom is still in excellent condition, evaluate if your synthetic pad needs to be replaced, or perhaps it’s time to try a Norway pad!
Buying your own broom: it’s a small investment which will make a world of difference in your game.
A pair of curling shoes: this is the key piece of equipment that any curler will ever own.
With the holiday season quickly approaching, maybe you have thought about purchasing curling shoes for that important curler in your life. But then you think to yourself, “Shoes? How can I possibly buy shoes for someone else?” Whether you are a curler yourself or simply an armchair curling quarterback, there are two things you need to think about when you embark on your shopping expedition.
The first question you will generally be asked when buying a shoe is whether the curler is right-handed or left-handed. For the veteran curlers reading this note, this may seem to be a ridiculous question. But for those who know nothing about the sport, they often think that being right-handed means the slider is on the right foot (trust me, I hear it in our retail store all the time)! In curling, if you hold and release the rock with your right hand, the slider will go on the opposing (ie. left) foot, and vice versa.
In curling, with experience comes improved balance and stability (at least one hopes that is the case). And as balance improves, one generally begins to think more seriously about the Teflon that is used on the surface of his/her shoe. Teflon is the most common material used for sliders and comes in a variety of thicknesses. If you don’t know why the thickness of Teflon is important, the easiest explanation is as follows: for a given amount of leg drive (out of the hack), the thicker the Teflon, the further one will travel down the ice.
For these individuals, the move to a curling shoe will generally lead to a huge improvement in their balance and stability. Now when it comes to a shoe for newer curlers, I would suggest a thinner slider. Newbies really don’t need the speed associated with a thicker slider as their primary objective is to stay upright. At Goldline, our two most popular choices for beginners are the Glide, with a 1/16” inch thick slider and is available for both men and women, and the Podium Bronze shoe, which comes with a 3/32” inch thick slider and is also available for for both men and women.
For those who have played a bit longer and/or have achieved a good sense of balance and stability out on the ice, the preference is often towards a thicker slider. Goldline offers numerous choices for these individuals. Our Podium Silver shoe (men's / women's) comes with a 5/32” inch thick slider, and in addition to the regular fit it is also available in a wide fit for both men and women. At the top thickness we have our Podium Gold shoe, which has a ¼” thick slider for men or women, as well as our G Force shoe, which is our newest offering this season.
Shoppers: if curling shoes are the gift that will put a smile on your loved one’s face but you are still very hesitant about whether you’ll pick the right style and size, you can always purchase a gift card. You can even clip out one of the pictures of the different Goldline curling shoes shown below and include it with the card so that there is no uncertainty as to your intentions. Or, if you really want to be able to wrap up a pair of shoes in your best wrapping paper and decorate with the most beautiful bow you have, rest assured that Goldline would be happy to exchange shoes for the proper size, or provide a full refund within 30 days of purchase.
For those who are just now compiling their wish list, simply clip out this column and attach it to your annual letter to the jolly old man up north, or discreetly slip it into the hands/purse/newspaper of that special someone in your life (hopefully they can take a hint!).
HO HO HO!!!
An important note to our readers: Dr. Goldline is not a real doctor, in any way, shape or form; the moniker is used purely for entertainment value. In addition, the views expressed are entirely those of the author and not of management or any other curler.
Stop watch: friend or foe? Every curler will have a different opinion on the topic.
Flash back: I was playing in a crucial playoff game about five years ago against the top ranked team in the club and the game was tied after 5. Having the advantage of last rock in the sixth, my skip, for his final shot of the end, had to draw into the house against two opposition stones which were biting the 12 foot ring. Skipper had had draw weight all night so this was not going to be a problem. Well, yours truly is watching the sweepers come down the ice with the rock, and by the point they reach the hog line, I am thinking the stone doesn’t look like it’s travelling very fast and I ask them once, then twice then three times if the rock is going to make it into the rings and they say yes every time, but then the rock came up short and we gave up a steal of two and ultimately lost the game!!!! When I asked the front end why they hadn’t swept, the second told me, “Based on the split time, the rock should have ended up right on the tee line”. (I had two drinks after the game that night).
Enough of my personal pain…..
While shoes and brushes fall into the category of “important to have”, timing devices fall into the “nice to have/maybe I’ll try it sometime” category. The underlying premise of timing is simple: if you repeatedly measure the speed of a moving object – the rock - between two fixed points (such as the back line and hog line, or the tee line and hog line), you should be able to tell how far one rock is going to travel relative to another rock by comparing the times you captured using the stop watch (I won’t even get into the topic of whether ice is “fast” or “slow” – let’s leave that for a future article). And by keeping a mental record of these split times and the outcome of each throw, you should be able to anticipate up front, based on split time alone, where every rock thrown will end up (ie. will be the rock be in front of the house, in the rings or will it travel through the rings?)
But, timing is not a perfect science. There are many factors that impact the “split times” you record during the course of a game.
My thoughts: many teams out there use timing devices but many others don’t. If you want to try one out, go ahead. But remember this: the watch is just an aide, and it is not a perfect one. In the end, you have to rely on your eyes and good judgment to figure out where the rock is going to end up.