Regina Worlds: Lighting It Up

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As we mentioned on Saturday, The Curling News Blog will be hopping with activity during the men’s worlds in Regina. And here, now revealed, is our blogstar for the event – second stone superstar out of Winnipeg, Jill Officer!

You’ve seen her stuff before – eg. the 2008 Brier in Winnipeg – and here she is again! She’s barely unpacked her bags and there’s already mayhem afoot!

Can I sit here? What about over there?

Can I sit here? What about over there?

by Jill Officer

REGINA – Sorry I’m late, folks! I just arrived here this afternoon, and now I'm in the blogzone for The Curling News here at the Ford World Men's Curling Championship!

Why am I late to the party? Our foursome, Team Jennifer Jones, was competing in the Victoria Curling Classic on the weekend and we were victorious, with a win over Shannon Kleibrink of Calgary in the final on Sunday. But now on to more important things….world curling in Regina!

As I entered the Brandt Centre today, I quickly remembered walking around this place just three years ago when we were Team Manitoba at the STOH in 2008. It’s a great facility.

The first thing I did was hit the lounge – not for a drink, but for some lunch. I had literally only been on the ground here in Regina for an hour when something very interesting happened in the Sweden versus Norway game. As I ate lunch, I was looking at my Twitter feed on my phone and hey preston... that’s how I learned that the two teams were in the process of replaying the second end of their game.

As soon as I got hooked up on the media bench (the photo of CCA media guy Jeff Timson and myself is by Kirk Penton of the Winnipeg Sun) I found out what happened. It was on third stones in the second end, and Sweden was throwing. Now for those of you who don’t know, each and every stone here has a sensor in the handle to monitor hogline violations. If a rock is released before the hogline, the light on top of the rock turns green until about halfway down the sheet, when it shuts off. Most stones react this way, and that's a good thing.

But if the rock is released after the hogline – a very, very bad thing – a flashing red light appears, indicating a violation. If that happens, the offending team is to stop the rock and remove it from play before it comes to rest. That stone is toast!

In this case, the two little lights on top of the rock turned both red and green! The Swedes, not knowing what was wrong – or what to do – let the rock play out, but in the confusion of it all, they also didn’t sweep the rock to make the shot that was being called.

What to do? The "Lightgate" debate

What to do? The "Lightgate" debate

Head Official Rae Kells said she wanted “to do what was fair for both teams.” Initially she was going to allow the shot to be replayed, but when the two teams could not agree on the original positioning of the stones prior to the incident, it was agreed that the entire end had to be replayed.

The end resulted in a steal of two for Norway and a 4-0 lead, after Swedish skip Niklas Edin rolled out on an open hit. Although Sweden tried to make a comeback, Thomas Ulsrud and Co. held on for the win.

In the postgame interviews, both skips said they have never, in their careers, ever had to replay an end before.

Ulsrud said he left the decision up to Edin and the Swedes (as did the officials) to either replace the rocks at the correct angles or replay the end, but Edin said he didn’t feel right replacing the rocks because the Norwegians were unsure of the correct placement and angles.

It seemed Edin’s bigger issue with the whole situation was the fact that there was a dead battery in the handle. He said they should be checked before every game to prevent situations like this, as it was not the first time this week there was a malfunctioning light on a rock.

Both teams are now at two losses and both have yet to face undefeated Canada. Norway also has to face undefeated Scotland.

Here is the website of the company that created and manufactures the rock sensor technology, by the way. Just in case you’re interested.

And that wraps up just the first couple of hours of my time in Regina at the men’s worlds... and I haven’t even seen Team Canada play yet. This can only get better!

“Lightgate” photo by Leslie Ingram Brown