High tech streaming system brings Kootenay curling into digital age

Curling has existed in BC for more than 120 years, with the Kootenays being home to some of the first clubs. A lot has changed over that time, including the way people watch the sport. In January 2016 I spoke to Cranbrook’s Chris Medford about his efforts to link curlers with a neat tool on their smart device.

Cranbrook’s curling club might not be the centre of the universe, but it has suddenly found itself with a powerful tool that allows it to reach a national or even international audience.

The Kootenay club’s new manager, Chris Medford, started off with the idea that he wanted to project an image of the club’s four sheets onto TV screens in the lounge. In order to do that, he needed cameras. He knew that local security firm, JSL, could hook up cameras, so he enlisted their help.

“I just knew that they had the technology to help us out,” he explained. With high tech cameras in place, JSL was able to easily project full colour images of the houses on the screens at the club. Not only that, but they gave Chris the ability to decide which images to project on a given screen, giving the curlers in the lounge the best view, and giving Chris added flexibility.

What was an even bigger bonus was that JSL was able to connect these cameras with smartphones through an app called iDMSS Lite, gDMSS Lite or bDMSS Lite (depending on your device). Now anyone in the club – or anywhere in the world with an internet connection for that matter – can watch curling at Cranbrook Curling Club. Chris said it has been a real attraction at the club. “You can also go back and play your own games back and try to assess where things have gone wrong,” he said. Chris is not sure that anyone outside of Cranbrook has been livestreaming games to their phones, but he says when Mixed playdowns are at the club from Feb 6-7, they may get a few people logging in. In addition to bringing this new technology to the club, Chris has also been instrumental in giving the club a facelift. Chris and his crew have painted the lobby and office, and have started projects to renovate the bar and lounge. They have also revamped the pro shop, bringing in new equipment. The improvements will bring new members into the club, says Chris. “We are already seeing some growth.” He is also keeping Tuesdays available for people to learn to curl. “Bringing new curlers in is key. If new people are not learning to play, then our membership cannot grow.” A junior program is also being run on Wednesdays from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. every week. More than 20 junior curlers attend every week. Chris added: “We encourage them all to participate in the Optimist Club that runs our programs in our area, with instruction from myself, Ida Van Der Molen and Kassandra Moore.” Chris hopes that all of these changes will lead to further growth in the years to come. “Curling is a great sport and we want to see more people enjoying it.”


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