Look here for answers to your most pressing questions on curling pants and grippers...
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. As the saying goes, “Put 3 lawyers/mathematicians/scientists (or curlers!) in a room and ask them the same question, and you’ll get 3 different answers”.
I love the sport of curling. When I am not writing my blog or curling, I sometimes moonlight as a sales clerk at one of Goldline’s retail stores. On these occasions, I have the opportunity to speak with many of our customers. I’ve decided to periodically share with you, through this column, some of the more frequent questions I receive from the curlers out there, and my answers to them.
Question: Dr. Goldline, can I wear jeans when I curl?
Honestly speaking, jeans would not be my pant of choice for curling. There are 3 things that come to mind when I think about wearing jeans during a curling game.
Stretch: Imagine yourself crouching down and preparing to deliver your rock. Do your jeans have enough stretch in them to ensure that blood circulation to your lower extremities is not cut off when you get down into the hack? Some of you may answer yes but I’m guessing most of you will say no. During the course of the game, you are leaning over and pressing down on the broom as you sweep. The button fastener of your jeans may accentuate your trim waistline but it may also leave you panting that much harder after a quick sweeping session down the ice. Stretch is the first thing you need to think about when you select pants to wear out onto the ice.
Warmth: The second key thing to remember about jeans is that your designer duds may look really cool, but they are also going to keep you real cool. Denim is not known for its thermal qualities; in fact, over the course of a typical 2-hour game, the fabric is going to cool down and the limbs lying beneath the fabric are likewise going to cool down. Not everybody gets cold out on the ice but if you are one of those people that bundles up when the temperature drops below 25ºC, you may find it more comfortable to be in pants that provide warmth (or at least enough room so that you can fit a pair of long underwear underneath).
Slide: When you first start to curl, the first and foremost thing you need to achieve is balance. Most people sliding out on ice for the first time ever with a piece of Teflon under their foot do not automatically have the greatest sense of stability and often their first instinct when they begin their slide is to drop their knee down onto the ice. Well, when you put a knee covered with denim down onto the ice surface, it is likely you will come to a screeching halt and will lose any forward momentum you had in your delivery.
To be comfortable and warm, wear pants that have sufficient stretch that you can easily crouch down into the hack, and keep you as warm as you need to be to make it through to the end of a game.
Goldline has a large selection of curling pants for both men and women. Women’s styles include the Kalynn, Allure, GLX and Monaco, while the men can choose from the Kanata, GQ, GLX and the all new Mojo.
Question: Dr. Goldine, how do I know when it is time to replace my gripper?
The gripper: it is such a key piece of your curling equipment (typically you have a removable gripper protecting the shoe on which the Teflon is secured, and a permanent gripper on the other shoe).
With respect to the removable gripper, I suggest that you replace it at least once per season at the start of the season.
But many people say to me, “Dr. Goldline, my gripper looks just fine. I don’t see why I should replace it.”
Here are my tips for assessing the condition of your gripper (or, as some may call it, an anti-slider):
- Do you feel secure when you are out on the ice and as you are sweeping a rock down a sheet of ice? If you get the sense that your foot is slipping or sliding more than is normal as you move down the ice, then take a good look at your gripper before you end up taking a spill out on the ice.
- Look at the outside of the gripper. The most obvious areas of wear and tear are on the outer edges of the gripper where the sides meet the sole. If the surface is quite smooth, it is likely you are not getting the grip you want. Also, look at the upper edges of the gripper. Are there any gaps or notches in it? If you grip the upper edge of the gripper with two fingers and gently pull, does the rubber surface move in and out like an accordion? If yes, your gripper has seen better days.
- Run your fingers over the surface of the gripper. Again, you may feel there are areas which are very smooth to the touch, indicating spots where the rubber surface has worn away, thereby lessening the effectiveness of the gripper.
- While the outside of the gripper is subject to the greatest level of scrutiny, it is frequently the inside of the gripper that is a real problem spot! Your shoe will gently rub away at the inside of the gripper, causing small particles of rubber to release from the surface. As you remove the gripper, these minute particles often stick to the bottom of your shoe and get dispersed out onto the ice surface. In fact, rubber debris from the inside of the gripper can be a common cause of picks during the course of a game! Make the ice technician at your club happy: replace your gripper regularly and help keep your ice surface clean.
Some people also notice that the permanent gripper on their shoe shows signs of wear and tear (in my experience, this is often caused by curlers using their feet to move rocks around in the house). There may be no need to buy a new pair of shoes if this is the case: having a new permanent gripper applied on the shoe may extend the life of your current curling shoes for many years.