At the Grand Forks Curling Club we have many different curling families. One of those families is the Staveteig family. Dave and Brenda Staveteig have been a big part of the club for many years. Brenda curls on Tuesday nights with the Grand Forks Scotties. She has also been club treasurer for several years. Dave curls on Monday nights, and is most known for his ice making skills. Dave is head ice technician for USA Curling and travels each season making ice for national and international events. They shared a bit of their story during our Men's bonspiel this year while they were watching two of their sons, Steve and Andy, curl in one of the final draws.
The Staveteigs started curling Sunday nights in 1997, the year the flood hit Grand Forks. Dave jokes that longtime member and passionate curler Bob Bina, kept "harassing us to quit playing hockey and come curl." It ended up being a great choice for them. Brenda remembers her and Dave curling with Bob and his wife, Rose, on a mixed team for many years. Their kids played hockey and the two couples enjoyed curling together. They joked that their only instruction was "here's the hack, now throw at the broom." Dave and Brenda really grew to love the sport.
From there they began to get more involved in the club and quickly appreciated the volunteer effort it takes to run a curling club. Brenda has been a board member for at least 15 years and also helps out with numerous club events. Dave became particularly involved in the ice making process. He remembers helping Bob make ice in his second year of curling and becoming "very interested in the science of making curling ice." He continued to practice his skills and it wasn't long before fellow GFCC member Don Barcome introduced him to some of the ice technicians at USA Curling. It just so happened that they were looking for more ice makers for their team. Dave and Brenda both traveled to Fuessen, Germany for a week-long class where Dave learned the fine details of making high level competition ice. That was the first of many adventures around the world including Denmark, China, and several locations in the US and Canada. Brenda often travels with him because he is gone so much during the curling season. The next adventure is already underway at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas for the World Men's Championships, March 31-April 8.
Making high quality curling ice is no easy task. Dave often comes into hockey arenas and has the daunting task of turning that into curling ice. He estimates it takes a good 6 to 7 hours just to get hockey ice clean. After that comes a layer of paint and floods to get the base layer in place. Then they have to place logos and advertisements in the ice before flooding again. During the icemaking process, Dave is constantly running the scraper, taking measurements, monitoring temperatures, and testing rocks to get consistent curling ice. As if that wasn't difficult enough, he's got a non-negotiable deadline when the TV cameras come in and start setting up. His team often has a fairly narrow window to get the ice converted from hockey to curling, so it's not uncommon for him to work 30 hours in a stretch just to make sure everything is prepared in time.
When asked, Dave and Brenda say what they like most about curling is the, "fellowship with people and the friendships you make." Brenda appreciates curling as a sport, "I like sweeping and the exercise it gives you," she says. Dave's favorite is putting in the ice with his fellow ice technicians. When it comes to curling, he says, "Do what you're good at and what you like to do. There are lots of ways for members to fit in."
Asked if they have any advice for new curlers, Brenda encourages newbies to reach past their fears. "It's harder than it looks, but it's a lot of fun. Once you get over the fear of falling you can enjoy it more." Dave recommends watching other curlers, "I've learned more about curling from my sons than anyone." Three of their four sons are curlers, and two have even done some competitive curling. Dave and Brenda are optimistic that perhaps one day their 5 young grandchildren will curl as well. "Curling is a great sport for families." As their family grows, so does their love of curling. We are glad to have the Staveteigs as a part of the Grand Forks Curling Club.
Curling doesn't require a lot of equipment. That’s a nice incentive for new curlers. They can step on the ice and enjoy the game with club equipment. There's not any pressure to buy a lot of expensive things they might never use again. In fact, it might be an advantage for a new curler to hold off on buying much until they have some experience and learn what they like. The first thing most curlers buy is their own broom. There are many choices for curlers of all levels.
There are many different kinds of broom shafts available from every company that makes curling equipment. From the traditional wood to carbon fiber, the prices are wide ranging. Wood is cheapest, but it's major drawbacks are weight and bulkiness. It's being used less and less. Another downside is that technically they can break. PVC is also inexpensive, and is a common alternative for new curlers and club brooms. Premium materials like fiberglass and carbon fiber have been used to make broom shafts for years. Carbon fiber is superior in weight to strength ratio. The price of both has come down considerably compared to a decade or so ago. There are also composite blends using both materials which are more economical than carbon fiber only. Brooms are often available in 1 inch or 1 1/8th inch diameter. New models sometimes taper down the shaft with the narrowest part near the head.
The evolution of brush pad styles and materials has evolved considerably over the years, and is ultimately what sparked the 2016 WCF sweeping summit and the new regulations regarding equipment. Traditionally, corn brooms were used on the ice and their "thwack, thwack" sound reverberated in the arena. The technique was difficult to master, but for those that did were fairly effective sweepers. Later, these brooms were wrapped in a soft fabric for better control and to keep shards of bristles off the ice. In the 1970's and 80's, hog hair brooms largely replaced the corn brooms because of increased effectiveness. These stiff brooms do have the downside of loosing hair, and they have the tendency to pick up a lot of dust and dirt over time. As curling emerged as an Olympic sport, a pad design using Cordura fabric and a foam became popular. In 2015, a few equipment manufacturers led by Hardline curling developed plastic inserts that drastically altered the effectiveness of sweeping. They allowed curlers to effectively "steer" their rocks simply by brushing.
With the variety of brooms and brushes available to curlers, it can be a both fun and difficult process to choose a broom. Having a good broom will not make you a better sweeper, but it will make you a more effective sweeper. Remember to replace your brush pad at least once per season. If you have curled at least one season and plan to continue curling, you should really have your own broom. You will enjoy the sport more as you develop your skills. Save those club brooms for the new curlers!