Canada's Sports Hall of Fame Canadian History and Society: Through the Lens of Sport Virtual Museum of Canada


Slider shoes. Innovation is determination and without it, winning can't happen. Simple. Ken Watson was one such man, determined to innovate his sport in order to win.

In the late 1940's Watson was the first curler to start sliding to victory. By sliding from the hack on the leather sole of his shoe, Watson ignored convention and perfected a way of delivering his stone by sliding on the ice.

By 1954, the slide delivery was a trademark of all the champions and became so important that today a range of different materials - red brick, teflon, stainless steel - are used in curling shoes to impact the slide in different ways.

The hack. Innovation isn't always about determination. Sometimes innovation occurs through chance and presents an opportunity that only a resourceful thinker is able to take advantage of, as in the case of Elias 'Ole' Olson.

In a Bonspiel in Saskatoon in 1939 Olson slipped having carefully prepared the perfect shot. He was so irritated at his bad luck that he became determined to resolve the problem.

By baking rubber into a thick set platform, Olson created a rubber hack embedded into the ice that was so successful all the local clubs immediately bought it and the hack became standardized throughout curling.

A true progressor of methods, Olson was also responsible for colour and painting rings on the ice, reasoning that curling would be "drab and colourless" without them and the first individual curling rock sharpening machine.

ExtendeR stick. Innovation isn't always determination or chance but comes from all manner of different places. Overcoming the difficulties playing sport was the inspiration behind Rusty Drew's extended curling stick innovation.

Drew's wife was having increasing difficulties curling in the traditional ways and Drew designed the ExtendeR stick to help her deliver the stone. So successful was Drew's ExtendeR stick that he patented the design and within 4 years he had sold over 11,000 sticks to both able-bodied and wheelchair athletes. .

photograph of Ole Olson
Elias 'Ole' Olson was one of the most creative and innovative curlers whose inventions advanced the sport of curling.
Collection: Alberta Sports Hall of Fame & Museum

black leather curling shoes with white plastic slider on sole
The sliding shoe uses a smooth sole to help the curler with their slide delivery. The gripper is used to give the curler traction when moving on the ice surface.
Collection: Canada's Sports Hall of Fame

rubber curling hack embedded in ice
The hack is a rubber platform embedded in the ice that the curler used to push off from when delivering the stone.
Collection: Curling Club, Fort Smith, NWT

photograph of Rusty Drew using the ExtendeR stick
The ExtendeR stick is used in curling to deliver the rocks. The development of this curling aid helped to create the sport of wheelchair curling.
Collection: Private collections Drew & Associates, David Dafoe

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