Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Skips' Vocal Chords Take a Beating at Canadian Women's Curling Championship: 'Hurry Hard' Hard on a Curler's Voice Box

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Skips' Vocal Chords Take a Beating at Canadian Women's Curling Championship: 'Hurry Hard' Hard on a Curler's Voice Box

Article excerpt

RED DEER, Alta. - Heather Nedohin knows it's coming. It's just a matter of when.

The Alberta skip was hoarse by the second day of the Canadian women's curling championship. She expected to be croaking out sweeping calls soon.

A skip's voice takes a beating over the course of the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

It's not just 20 ends or more a day of calling sweepers on and off the stones that strains their voice boxes.

They use tone and volume to communicate the urgency of the situation. Their vocal chords compete with skips yelling on other ice sheets and also with bursts of applause and ringing bells from spectators.

The skips often sound raspy in post-game interviews. Some larynges hold up better than others. Nedohin's larynx does not.

"Because I'm ridiculous when I scream and I do it too much," she confesses. "I overdo it."

Curling lore includes instances of skips trying to work around their voices giving out.

When Russ Howard lost his voice at the 1989 Brier, he tried using radio communication devices with his teammates, but the Canadian Curling Association wouldn't allow it.

Ontario skip Bryan Cochrane was given permission by the CCA to use a whistle at the 2003 Brier because he had a pre-existing vocal chord disorder.

Skips often combine hand signals with verbal instruction, and those signals are a backup if their voice quits.

"We play in a lot of curling rinks throughout the cashspiel season and they are loud and echo and are noisy, so we do have a lot of hand signals that we use," B.C.'s Kelly Scott said. "Even in an arena, you can't shout over the cheering and applauding at times.

"We do default back to some hand signals. The sweepers always know to look up and keep checking."

How the skips feel about what's happening on the ice is projected to both their teammates and the spectators via their voices.

Nedohin wears her emotions on her sleeve and in her voice. Her shouts are the loudest and highest on the musical scale with Marie-France Larouche of Quebec a close second. …

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