Controversy at the Scotties

Montreal, QC – In Draw 6 action at the 2014 Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Montreal, Saskatchewan’s Stephanie Lawton defeated New Brunswick’s Andrea Crawford 9-3. Overshadowing the final result, however, was a controversial rock in the fifth end.

With Saskatchewan already up 5-0 and sitting three, New Brunswick third Rebecca Atkinson’s final stone was stopped by lead Jodie Desolla and second Danielle Parsons just before reaching the far hog line because of what appeared to be a malfunction of the stone’s electronic handle. “After I crossed the hog line it was flashing red and green,” Atkinson said of the lights on the stone that indicate whether a player has released the rock before the hog line.

Green lights mean the rock is legal while red means a violation and the stone must be pulled from play. Flashing between green and red was confusing for the team from Gage Golf and Curling Club in Oromocto.

Further compounding the issue for New Brunswick was a similar situation in last night’s game against British Columbia. That stone was also removed from play, but Atkinson said they were told that “if it happened again, as the rock was traveling down the ice, if it was flashing green and red we had to stop it immediately…they would check it and if it was a malfunctioning handle we would be permitted to throw it again and if it was not a malfunctioning handle, which meant that it would have been our error, the rock would be pulled as a hog line violation.”

The team clarified the ruling after the game and were “told with certainty that if the rock was flashing green and red we had to stop the rock immediately and it would be checked during play.”

What seemed to upset the team, however, was that officials did not check Atkinson’s stone. “They wouldn’t check it, they just pulled the rock,” she said.

The game was delayed between 5 and 10 minutes as a visibly frustrated Crawford and Atkinson talked with the official, which eventually led to a second official entering the discussion. The stone was ultimately removed from play and Saskatchewan went on to score 3 to take an 8-0 lead.

After the game Atkinson pointed out that the team’s frustration resulted mostly from what they feel has been inconsistent information from officials: “We want to be sportsmanlike, but we are competitors so we want consistency with the rules.”

For their part, Lawton and third Sherry Anderson were part of the discussion, but, like a majority of those in the crowd, just seemed to be trying to understand the situation.

“For us it’s basically we’re not really sure, we’re not standing at the hog line to help determine that, so unfortunately it was called by the officials that it was a hog line,” Lawton said.

After the game, several officials were on the ice testing the stones’ handles.

Atkinson said the team would not seek another clarification from officials and instead would just to put the situation behind them: “Hopefully it doesn’t happen again, that’s the really unfortunate part is that we’re really not sure going forward what the rule is…We just want the rules to be clear and want to play our game and not worry about that kind of stuff.”

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