Apparently men have a 20% advantage over women when it comes to sweeping. That's not really surprising though, now is it.
The article has some insight into sweeping too: "For years it was felt that hard sweeping heated up the top of the ice and briefly melted the surface, making it easier for the rock to glide. Not so, said the UWO researchers. Instead, microscopic "frost particles" form and act as a lubricant."
Interesting stuff. They are still doing research, and I'll bet a lot of people will be interested in the results!
The above video goes more indepth into the whole sweeping thing. The host calls curling the most unusual Olympic sport (!), and the video slightly contradicts the new finding by the article above (I guess the secret isn't quite popular knowledge yet). It's narrated by US Olympian John Shuster (but also has lots of footage of David Murdoch and his lovely accent and tight shirt), and it really is very interesting from a science perspective. Be sure to check the other Olympic Science videos too.
It must be 'curling science' week because the National Post just put out another story, Covert Ops, about research on curling technique - specifically sweeping.
- "The most effective sweepers have their weight right on top of the broom. (Imagine removing the broom and the sweeper would fall flat on the ice)."
- "The old school method is to position the broom at a 45-degree angle to the stone. The new school, which has emerged in recent years and is being preached by curling coaches far and wide, involves having the broom perpendicular to the rock face -- and sweeping back and forth."
- "The old school technique heats the ice in a uniform manner, where the new school method produced a mash of hot and cold patches, negatively impacting the rock's flight path."
- "Kevin Martin and the Canadian rink are old school sweepers. There were other tricks and scientific lessons learned -- and curling gadgets presumably being engineered -- soon to be at the curlers' disposal. Jenkyn cannot talk about what the little surprises might be in Vancouver."