Dawn McEwen has dedicated most of her life to curling, having been on the ice since she was seven years old. She even met her husband (and one of the country's top men's curlers) Mike McEwen at a junior bonspiel. Born and raised in Ottawa, McEwen first appeared as a major player on the curling scene when she played for Jenn Hanna's team. She moved to Winnipeg in 2007 to be with her future husband and started playing lead for Jennifer Jones' team.
Last month, the Jones rink made history by becoming the first team from Manitoba to qualify for the Olympics. Next up for McEwen and her teammates is the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, now only three weeks away. McEwen recently talked with Free Press intern Veronika Gorlova.
FP: At what point did you know curling was something you wanted to pursue professionally?
McEwen: I took a love to it right away when I started playing. My parents played the sport. Little Rocks (an introductory program to the sport), I loved it. It was just something we did every Sunday, you know, we had the fun bonspiels every weekend. It was just something that I grew to love, and I think I've always had that drive inside me to want to be successful in the sport.
FP: Did you ever imagine yourself getting to the Olympics?
McEwen: I mean, I've dreamt about it but it hasn't completely hit me yet that we're going. It's funny because people kind of ask me, is it sinking in yet? And I tell them, well, not really. Today someone was talking to me about it and I said, 'I still can't believe we're going.' It's kind of surreal still, but we're just so excited and it's so amazing that our curling dreams have been able to come true to this degree.
FP: What are you most looking forward to at the Olympics?
McEwen: You know what, I don't know. I think it's going to be so awesome being part of a bigger team. You know, the Opening Ceremonies and being able to walk out with all of the different athletes from different sports. That's one of the biggest things about the Olympics, you're one big team from Canada. So, I think it's going to be really cool to have that kind of camaraderie and support from other athletes during the Games. We're beyond excited and can't wait to go.
FP: Your husband, Mike, is also a curler and he fell short of his bid to get to the Olympics. Do you have bragging rights over him now?
McEwen: I wouldn't say bragging rights. It's pretty great, he's really excited for us to go and he's really proud of the team. It's nice, even though they didn't quite get to where they wanted to, that he's super-supportive. He's actually coming with us as part of the family contingency so it's really nice that he's been really supportive of us.
FP: There's a lot of pressure for Team Canada to do well in the Olympics, there's usually this gold-or-else mentality with curling. How do you feel about that?
McEwen: You know what, obviously our goal is to go out and try and get gold. We've been to a few world championships and had that pressure on us, but we've just have to go out there and focus on what we're doing and play well. Our team is known to actually play quite well under pressure situations. We're not scared of that at all, we'll go out there and give it our best and see what happens.
FP: You play lead on the team, and sometimes leads don't get as much attention as some of the other players. How do you feel about that?
McEwen: I enjoy being in the background and making my shots and sweeping my butt off. I'm perfectly happy with not getting all the media attention. In curling it's typically the skip and that's completely fine by me. With us winning the trials it's been a bit of a different experience where they're wanting to talk to me a little bit more now.
FP: What do you think your team has over the other teams that is going to help you win?
McEwen: It's a really good field in Sochi -- there's the reigning world champions, former world champions. It's definitely a great field and we're going to have to go out there and play well against these teams. We just have to go out there and focus on ourselves, a shot at a time. I think it's all about consistency, if we can keep trekking along like we did at the trials it will be great.