I always swore that when I would decide to hang up my curling shoes, I would not do some sappy Facebook/Twitter post announcing it to the world; I would just quietly exit, stage right. But I kinda feel the need to share some news as we head into the start of what will hopefully be a more conventional and social curling season:
Once the Olympic Trials are done for this year, I will be
stepping back from competitive curling.
I was getting to the point in my career where I have started
to notice the game passing me by. I am 49, about to turn 50, and as much as I
have tried to stay in shape and keep my game up to the level of the some of the
best curlers in the world, it keeps getting a bit harder year after year.
Covid has not helped; I have not thrown a curling rock since
the 2021 Brier, and find myself having to remember how to get my not-so
flexible legs to tuck back into curling position. The sad and inescapable truth is the amount of practice I need to do to be able to make the shots I need to make is now beyond the time and energy I have to give.
And, as I often pointed out, sometimes life can get in the
way of curling. I have taken on a new role at my “day job” that will require me
to relocate to Toronto (or “The Six” as the cool kids call it) and spend a bit
more of my energy at work. It was probably already time to step away
gracefully, but the combination of Covid and work have made the decision to retire
that much easier. Therefore, once our Olympic quest comes to an end, (which
will ideally be after closing ceremonies in Beijing early next year!), I will
step back from the game I love.
I will miss it dearly. I will miss that excitement you feel
competing at a high level. I will miss playing down for the Brier, still one of
the greatest sports traditions on the planet. I will miss my team. I will miss
that satisfying feeling of sitting down for a postgame rye and coke, knowing
that you just competed against the best in the World at a game. Most of all I
will miss my team.
I am incredibly proud of how this team has grown over the
past years, from starting with Felix and Will five years ago, then adding Ben
and JF and now Martin. There are times, rare times, in sport when a team
becomes more than just a collection of guys playing the game. It becomes
something indescribable, a bond towards a common purpose that unifies in way
that nothing else can. This team is that. #feedthehorses
So what does this mean for Team Fournier?
Well, I will leave it up to them to tell you. But Team
Fournier will live on for at least a couple more months. As a result of our national ranking pre-Covid,
we have been invited to play at the Olympic Pre-Trials. The Pre-Trials
will be held October 26-31 in Liverpool, Nova Scotia. 14 Teams will play down
for 2 spots at the final Olympic Trials to be held in Saskatchewan in
late November. Then the winner heads to Beijing 2022 wearing the maple leaf.
If the pre-Trials/Trials is to be my last big men’s competitive run, I can think of no better way to go out. The Canadian Olympic Trials are
the pinnacle of the sport. I would argue it is harder to win the Canadian
Olympic Trials than it is to win the Olympics. I absolutely can’t wait to get
back on the ice to work towards October.
The highlights are many. Obviously going to the Brier in
2018 and 2021 top the list, and especially winning the Quebec Championship at
Glenmore takes the top spot.
But I can’t help but to think back to how much fun it was just
to even make it to Quebec Provincials when I started out. I think I was two years
out of juniors when I qualified A-side out of Montreal, where we were one of 4
teams out of 80 or 90. It was different time.
And so many of my best memories will come from playing in obscure
cashspiels in small towns. The tour was fun, and every spiel was an adventure.
Anyway – more to come. My imminent retirement will surely
not mean the end of the blog. I might not be writing as an insider anymore, but
it will be much more fun to write about the big teams without having to worry
about them reading it before playing me!