Queen's alum represents Ontario at Tim Hortons Brier

Wesley Forget competes in Canada’s national curling championship

Wes Forget's backswing technique garnered national attention.
Wes Forget's backswing technique garnered national attention.
Credit: 
Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press
Wesley Forget, ArtSci '14 and current Residence Life permanent staff member, attended the 2019 Tim Hortons Brier tournament this year as part of curler Scott McDonald’s Ontario team.
 
The Brier, an annual Canadian men's curling championship, took place this past week from March 2 to 10. The tournament features teams who won their respective provincial championships and determines who will be representing Canada at the 2019 World Curling Championships.
 
After Team McDonald went undefeated to win the Ontario Tankard—the province’s foremost tournament—in late January, they set their sights on the Canadian title. At the Tankard, they took out past winners like reigning champion John Epping and four-time world champion Glenn Howard. 
 
For Forget, who’s been curling since he was a teen, attending the Brier was something he knew he could achieve.
 
“Just by sticking with the game, you have a chance at making it to the Brier,” Forget said in an interview with The Journal. “I think as I started to reflect on that and realize there weren’t that many people left from my specific age groups, my chances of getting to the Brier were increasing yearly.”
 
The sheer size and publicity of the championship was equally new for Forget, who had to adjust  to playing in a larger arena with significant media attention on him, including being nationally broadcasted by TSN.
 
“I would say it’s overwhelming, but definitely you get used to it and it feels good to get used to it, because you’re like, ‘I’m used to playing at the Brier’ [...] There’s definitely a highlight to being a little bit of a rock star [...] as you’re walking from place to place you get stopped,” Forget said.
 
The attention hasn’t stopped since Forget returned to work on campus, either.
 
“Someone stopped me when I was on the way to eat,” he said. 
 
“It means a lot to know that someone may have seen curling because they knew that I was playing in it or that someone from Kingston was playing.”
 
When Team Ontario wasn’t able to make it past the championship pool to the playoff round, Forget was able to embrace the Brier experience as a lover of the sport and take advantage of his behind-the-scenes access.
 
“After the semi-finals I turned into a bit of a fan,” Forget said. “I basically ran amok around that place collecting signatures and autographs, because why not? I [was at] the Brier, and I could never make it back there again.”
 
He added the Brier allowed him to come face-to-face with some of his curling icons.
 
“I saw [Olympic Gold medalist] Kevin Martin there and he came over and talked to me. He’s the reason I curl,” Forget said. “I watched him go to the [2002] Salt Lake City Olympics, and I watched him throw one rock and I just knew that I needed to play this game.”
 
Forget garnered attention during the Brier for throwing the rock with a backswing, a technique that hasn’t been used often since the 1980s. When asked about the reason behind his technique, Forget admitted that he doesn’t see why so many people were interested. 
 
“There are a lot of people that throw with a backswing,” he said. “I think it was partly the fact that it [came down smoothly on the ice] and partly the fact that I’m a younger player. It’s kind of cool to see someone that’s new to the Brier, who’s under the age of 30, throwing with a backswing which hasn’t been able to be taught in the last two decades.”
 
Forget explained why he adopted the technique, as opposed to the modern form in which the curler keeps the rock in front of them. 
 
“The backswing makes it a bit easier to hit the broom. You follow the rock, and you sort of feel like an extension of the rock, and you just let it go. I feel like I can make those big weight shots a little easier.”
 
With the curling season over, Forget’s looking forward to playing in less high-stake games and potentially qualifying for additional tournaments. Team McDonald has a chance to attend The Champions Cup, which features some of the best-scoring teams from across the world. In addition, the team’s been invited to the Oakville Curling Club’s Kurl for Kids charity bonspiel in mid-April, where they’ll play to raise funds for the Oakville Hospital Foundation and the Sandra Schmirler Foundation.
 
In the meantime, Forget has hung his framed Purple Heart—the crest given to the men's provincial curling champions—on his office wall. If he plays as well as next year, another crest might join it.
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