Now, intimidation is not a word that I have ever associated with curling! Yet it has cropped up twice this week at the European Mixed Curling Championship in Kitzbuehel. No, I don't mean that it has happened, or there has been any nasty goings on, but it has been mentioned not once, but twice.
I came across it first was when my attention, and that of all the players, was drawn to the rule in the WCF rulebook:
R4. POSITION OF PLAYERS (a) Non-Delivering Team: (i) During the process of delivery the players take stationary positions along the sidelines between the courtesy lines. However: 1) the skip and/or vice-skip may take stationary positions behind the back line at the playing end, but must not interfere with the choice of place of the skip or vice-skip of the delivering team, and 2) the player who is to deliver next may take a stationary position to the side of the sheet, behind the hacks, at the delivering end. (ii) The non-delivering team players must not take any position, nor cause any motion, which could obstruct, interfere with, distract or intimidate the delivering team. If such an action occurs, or an external force distracts a player during delivery, that player has the option of allowing the play to stand, or of redelivering the stone after all displaced stones have been replaced to their original positions.
This rule is displayed prominently at the entrance to the playing area.
The other time I heard the word 'intimidation' this week was at the players' meeting. Chief Umpire Leslie Ingram-Brown was talking about measuring. Now, in the RCCC rulebook, new this season, appears the following:
MEASURING 3(d) (i) All measurements will be completed by an umpire. The persons in charge of the house at the time of the measurement may witness the measurement but must take up a position which will neither influence nor interfere with the measure. The umpire will indicate the shot(s) following the measurement before moving any stone(s). Either team has the right to ask for the stones to be re-measured.
This is an excellent rule. I wonder why it does not appear in the new WCF rulebook? It is however in use at the EMCC08 in Kitzbuhel this week! Leslie specifically drew players' attention to this procedure that they intended to use when measures were called on at the event. He explained that he did not wish his umpires to be intimidated in any way when carrying out their duties.
So, let's hear it for the umpires. They received a bad press on occasion last season, but they are a hard working group - at any big event, but especially here at Kitzbuehel with four draws per day. It certainly helps them do their job when rules are stated clearly for all to observe.
Top: It was umpire Sina Frey's birthday yesterday, and her present was to conduct a measure!
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