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Former Sundre curler's Brier appearance 'doesn’t come around everyday'

Dylan Webster is the lead on the Aaron Sluchinski team in the 2024 Montana’s Brier starting Friday
The Aaron Sluchinski team with the provincials final cup. Nadine Bancroft/Hinton Curling Club/Facebook

SUNDRE - Having started his curling career at the age of six, former Sundre resident Dylan Webster says being on a team heading to the national championship 2024 Montana’s Brier starting Friday is a dream come true.

Webster is the lead on the Aaron Sluchinski team, which also includes third Jeremy Harty and second Kerr Drummond. 

Coached by Mickey Pendergast, the team qualified for the Brier by defeating the Kevin Koe rink at the recent provincial championships in Hinton.

“The Brier doesn’t come around everyday,” Webster, 32, told the Albertan. “We’ve got to make the best of our opportunity, but at the same time we want to perform well and soak in the experience.

“We want to take all that we can out of the Brier because you never know when you are going to get back there again.”

Moving to Sundre when he was five years old, Webster first tried curling a year later, encouraged by his mom Angela, his grandmother Borgny and his grandfather Arvin, as well as others, he said.

“I moved to Sundre when I was five and went to school there until I left after high school,” he said. “I started curling in the Sundre junior curling program.

“My mom was really into curling and my grandma was a big curler too. I think it was something my parents wanted to put me in to see if I liked it. I had a lot of influence from my grandma to keep it going and I ended up liking it.”

Although it will be his first time competing in the Brier, Webster has already seen a good deal of success in his curling career.

“I started playing competitively in Sundre when I was 12,” he said. “I joined with Parker Konschuh, Craig Bourgonje and Mac Walton and coach Ed Lengyel. That was our four man team from the age of 12 until we went to university, so probably until we were 18, 19.

“We went to Alberta Winter Games twice, getting a silver medal in 2008. We went to three juvenile provincial and three junior provincials. We were also chosen by Alberta Curling Federation at the time, in 2009, to represent Alberta in Korea for a curling exchange.”

He has played in various combinations with his former teammates on several occasions over the ensuring years.

After moving to Calgary to attend university, Webster is now an Airdrie resident.

He teamed up with his Sluchinski, Harty and Drummond teammates last year, where they made a good run at the provincial championships only to come up short.

“This is our second year with this lineup,” he said. “Kerr, Aaron and I, we’ve been playing together for the last seven years or so.

“We were really close last year. We lost the provincial semifinals to Kevin Koe. At the same time we missed the wild card spot by only one five tour points. We were close in two different ways last year, so that was kind of a gut punch.

“It really fuelled us this year to get into the Brier. If we hadn’t won the provincials it turns out that we would have also got the last wildcard spot.”

He explained that getting to the Brier from Alberta is particularly difficult in recent years.

“Since 1999 there have only been four skips who have ever won Alberta: Randy Ferbey, Kevin Martin, Kevin Koe and Brendon Bottcher. So it’s really hard for any team to really break through in Alberta.”

The Sluchinski team plays out of the Airdrie Curling Club.

Running March 1-10 in Regina, the 2024 Brier will feature 18 teams, with the winner going on to represent Canada at the world championships in Switzerland.

Asked what the Sluchinski team will be doing in the run up to the Brier, Webster says plans are to get together to polish the team’s game.

“We are going to get in some practices for sure,” he said. “We definitely want to get in some full team practices to finely tune some things and get our communication perfected so we are in good shape to perform.”

Of course, the team won’t want to tinker too much with its winning formula, he noted.

“Whatever we did in Hinton strategy-wise we will try to bring that to the Brier,” he said. “Ultimately it is a big stage with a lot of strong teams, but we feel if we bring that same game we can elevate from there and have a good chance of being in the playoffs.”

Webster says his mom Angela Hasselmann and his stepdad Walley Hasselmann will be travelling to Regina to watch him play.

Webster works in an IT project manager role in his life outside curling.

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