Alex Forrest was both enjoying the ecstasy of the moment and breathing a sigh of relief.
The Deer Lodge skip had passed on a chance to play in the Canadian Curling Pre-Trials with his big brother, Tyler, to concentrate on his last year of junior. Well, Forrest finished off Assiniboine Memorial's Michael Johnson 7-2 in six ends in the junior men's provincial final at the Deer Lodge Curling Club last night.
"Yeah, I'm OK with that now," said Forrest, who would have been kicking himself if he had both lost the Manitoba final and missed playing for Jason Gunnlaugson at both the pre-trials and Olympic trials (Tyler plays lead for Gunnlaugson).
Forrest stole two in the third end to take a 4-0 lead, then coasted to the victory.
"It feels pretty good," said Forrest, 20. "I was surprised it wasn't closer. I was expecting it to come down to last shot. They looked like they were really playing good (yesterday) so, I was expecting something a little closer."
Johnson, 20, had rebounded from a 4-0 deficit to sink Stonewall's Jared Kolomaya 6-5 in the semifinal. But he denied that that had taken too much out of his team.
"I guess I was a little surprised at making it to the final after the first two ends of that semi," said Johnson, who had also eliminated defending champion Sam Good of Pembina 8-2 in the morning.
'Didn't work out'
"I don't think it had a lot to do with it. We just got down early and got into a bit of trouble.
"I didn't think the odds of (coming back) twice in one day were very good. We did our best and it didn't work out this time ... We played well but not quite good enough in the final."
Supported by third Joey Witherspoon, second Connor Njegovan, 16 and lead Mike Neufeld, 19, Forrest will represent Manitoba at the Junior Men's and Women's Canadian National Championships, Jan.16-24 at Sorel-Tracey, Que.
"I'm just really excited," said Forrest. "My brother (Tyler) went (with Reid Carruthers) and I didn't get to go see him so, I've really got no clue what it's like. So, it's just going to be a lot of excitement for the next little while."
It is an eclectic foursome as Forrest hails from Carman, Witherspoon from Carberry, Njegovan, Winnipeg, and Neufeld (Chris Neufeld's son), Gimli.
"They played amazing," said Forrest, who clipped Kolomaya 7-6 in the Page playoff one-versus-one game. "They played better than they did the whole year so, other than a few ends the whole weekend, I really didn't have a lot of pressure on myself. So, it made me look better than I could have if I had had pressure on me."