Front End Curler and Sweeping
For those who do not know what a front end curler means, it means that the curler plays either the Lead position or the Second position. The Lead throws the first two stones, and the Second throws the next two stones. Usually, the front end curlers are the sweepers for the Skip or the Fourth player, who throws the last two stones. Of course there are exceptions. In this year’s Men’s World Curling Championships, Team German, Team Russia, and Team Switzerland had the Lead and Third sweeping the last two stones.
Great front end curlers you have to know
In the split-the-tee situation, the sweepers plays a very important role. Not only do they have to be good at judging weight, they also have to be good at sweeping. So when talking about good sweepers, you have to talk about good front end curlers. And when talking about good front end curlers, you have to know these two players: Ben Hebert and Marc Kennedy, especially Ben Hebert. As far as I know, Ben Hebert is the only front end curler who won two Worlds Gold medals with two different Skips and also won an Olympic Gold medal. Marc Kennedy is similar, but he played the Third for Kevin Koe when he won the second Worlds Gold. Why didn’t Marc play the Second for Kevin Koe? I guess that’s because they got another great front end curler on the team – Brent Laing. Although Brent Laing doesn’t have an Olympic Gold, he has three World’s Gold medals with two different Skips.
Please note that curling is a Skip-centric sport. It’s the most important position of a team. It’s common to see great Skips who change their lineups throughout their careers and still remain highly competitive. The best yet rare examples are Kevin Koe (Canada) and Niklas Edin (Sweden). Each of them won two Worlds Gold medals with two completely different teams. On the other hand, for a front end curler to won multiple Gold medals with different Skips, that’s equally rare. That’s why Ben Hebert’s achievements are so unique.
Now back to sweeping. In the split-the-tee situation, it’s not common to see a stone comes to the button by itself without sweeping. The following is an example where sweeping was kept to a minimum, yet it’s also a result of good weight judgement from the sweepers.
In the next example, there was apparently much more sweeping. The shot started at 1:42 of the video.
Peter Smith (Scotland) is another front end curler who won three Worlds Gold medals with two different Skips. He played the Second for David Smith in 1991. In 2006 he was the Alternative on David Murdoch’team, and then again he played the Second for Murdoch in 2009.
Post cover photo © WCF/Richard Gray