February 25, 2010

The ABCs of Curling - V

illum_v is for Vice, also known as the third on a curling team. The term is a diminuitive of vice-skip, meaning, perhaps, assistant skip. Traditionally, the vice-skip throws the fifth and sixth rocks of each end, and then holds the broom in the house for the skip's rocks.

As the vice is responsible for the house, and making sweeping calls during the skip's rocks, it is important that he or she have a good understanding of the game, and the ice. The skip will often discuss shots and strategy with the vice during the game, as well.

While I am of the firm opinion that, on a competetive team, every position's rocks are of equal importance, the vice rocks come at a crucial point during the end. The vice is called upon to make the set-up shots that will give the skip the opportunity to complete the end according to the game plan. As well, if the end is not setting up as desired, the vice may be counted on to provide the bail-out shots - tough double take-outs, or touchy freezes that will allow a team to escape from an end that is going against them.

The vice is also often the line of communication between the skip and the front end players. He has to manage the lead and second for the skip, as well as manage the skip for the lead and second. The best vices are often true diplomats and negotiators.

In some instances, the vice delivers the last two stones in an end, while the skip throws the third pair. The most notable example of that being the six time Brier champion, four time world champion Randy Ferby rink from Alberta, on which Ferby called the game - having the best grasp of strategy - but vice David Nedohin - who was the best thrower on the team - threw the last two stones. Sometimes the roles are even more fluid. On the Colleen Jones 1999-2005 rink - considered the most successful women's team of all time - lead Nancy Delahunt held the broom for skip Colleen Jones' shots.

The rule governing the positions of team members only states that the players must declare a throwing order at the beginning of the game, and must throw in that order for the entire game. There is a penalty for throwing a rock out of order. Outside of throwing order, there are no rules that govern where and what the players do. The team member that holds the broom and calls the game can change at any time during a match, as long as the team continues throw in the same order as they began the game.

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Simon said...


Vader was never known to be a curler.

Call me Paul said...

"The ability to make a triple takeout is insignificant next to the power of the Force."

Simon said...

I dunno... a well-executed triple takeout is a pretty impressive thing to behold.

Dan said...

The US Women's team did a mix-up and moved the skip to the vice spot. I was puzzling why that would be such a big deal until they played and really improved their game.

Call me Paul said...

It is such a mental game. I'm not skipping my team right now because I can't seem to make the shots. But I'm making them well enough at the vice position. Who knows why.

Phat Baby Photographer said...

While watching the Winter Olympics, I thought of this blog to help me figure out some of the ins and outs of curling.