Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Forrest goes national

Skips club to provincial title on home ice in sixth bid for shot at Canadian crown

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After five previous cracks at it, Alex Forrest of Deer Lodge Curling Club is on his way to the national championship.

Forrest, 20, and his team won the 2010 provincial junior men's curling championship on Tuesday night on their home club's ice at Deer Lodge by defeating Michael Johnson of Assiniboine-Memorial 7-2 to win the title.

Forrest, and his team of third Joey Witherspoon, second Connor Njegovan, lead Mike Neufeld and coach Tom Clasper will now represent Manitoba at the 2010 M&M Junior Men's Canadian National Curling Championship in Sorel-Tracy, Que. Jan. 16-24.

"It means a lot to be going to nationals, I've been wanting this since probably I was 13 or 14 when I went to provincials for my first time. It feels pretty good," Forrest said, with a grin. He said he lost in the final two years ago playing third but that was as close as he's gotten.

"My team played amazing, they played better than they have the whole year. Other than a few ends, the whole week, I really didn't have any pressure on myself. It made me look better than I could have if the pressure was on me.

"I was surprised it wasn't closer, I was expecting something to come down to last rock because they looked like they were playing good today."

Witherspoon, who skipped his own team in the provincials last year, said Forrest approached him after last season to join his team and take a shot at going to the nationals.

"Knowing Alex and what his past accomplishments were, I thought it would be a great opportunity and I thought we'd have a great shot at winning this year. I thought I might as well go for it and it sure did work out great," Witherspoon, 18, said.

"Going to nationals, it's an amazing feeling, unlike anything I've ever felt before. To wear the buffalo (Manitoba's emblem), it's been a dream of mine ever since I started curling about 10 years ago."

The Forrest team scored back-to-back deuces in the second and third ends before pretty much slamming the door with three in the fifth. They started the sixth end but after Johnson's team scored one, shook hands.

The Forrest team placed first in its pool with a 6-1 record, as did the Johnson team. In the Tuesday-morning playoff round, the Johnson team came back from behind and stole four of six points in a 6-5 win over the Jared Kolomaya team from Stonewall to earn a berth in the final.

"I didn't think the odds of doing that (coming back from behind) twice in one day were very good but we did our best and it didn't work out this time," said Johnson, who has now completed his junior curling eligibility. "We had a couple times this week where we had slow starts, the game before we had a slow start as well but we just weren't able to come back from it. This morning we just had one bad end, really, and then we played really well the rest of the game and we were able to keep stealing."

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 23, 2009 C1

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