After being asked to join Steve Laycock and the rest of Team Saskatchewan, Edwards School of Business student Matt Lang is heading to the Brier. Lang will be the fifth man for the team as they compete against the best in Canada from March 1-9 in Kamloops, B.C.

Lang competed with two of the other team members in junior curling. After his team lost in the provincial championships — the winner of which advances to the Brier — he was asked to be the fifth man for Team Saskatchewan.

The opportunity to attend one of the most esteemed curling competitions in the world isn’t something Lang is taking lightly. He’s been curling since he was seven years old and knows what a huge opportunity this is.

“This may be considered, other than the Olympics, the biggest curling competition in the world,” he said. “Going to the Brier, you want to be able to soak up the environment.”

Unlike many other curling tournaments — with few spectators and little media coverage — the Brier is one of the biggest sporting events in Canada, drawing thousands of fans and being broadcast across the country. This will be Lang’s first time competing in such a high-stakes event, which is something he plans on using as a learning experience.

“Just being there gives you that sense of what it’s going to take if I go back there in the future — what it takes to make these shots and win these things,” he said.

In order to prepare for these types of events, curlers put in a lot of work on and off the ice. The training teams go through has continually increased over the past years and now includes coaches, physical trainers, sports psychologists and nutritionists.

“You’re starting to see that a lot more with high performance teams. It’s more than just practicing and making your shots,” Lang said. “It’s how you’re going to make those shots — especially in high pressure situations like the Brier — how you’re going to deal with these environmental changes.”

Gone is the image of the out of shape, beer drinking curler.

“The misconception is the athletic demand that comes with curling,” Lang said. “Now you have to be physically active and balanced and strong to play this game.”

Lang also played hockey and football growing up but eventually gave them up to focus on curling — something his peers didn’t always understand.

“Growing up it wasn’t the easiest being a curler,” he said. “Kids are always wondering why you’re spending so much time curling. ‘Why aren’t you playing hockey? Why aren’t you spending more time playing football?’ When I’m 20, 30, 40 years old I know I can still be curling and going for these goals. I realized that it’s a sport you have the potential to play your whole life.”

Unlike other sports, curlers have the opportunity to create their own teams, something that can be good or bad.

“The toughest part is finding a team with the same commitment levels and the same drive to succeed,” he said.

Lang’s determination and dedication to the sport has already gotten him far but he hopes to go even further in the future; he’s gunning to compete in — and win — the biggest events in the world.

“My long term goals always have been to make the Olympics and win the Olympics and to make the Brier, win the Brier and win the World Championships,” he said. “These are obviously very lofty goals but it’s been something that I’ve always aimed for since I started curling.”