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McEwen living up to the hype

Young skip challenging WCT's big guns

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/1/2009 (3105 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

DREAM big, and maybe you win big.

Mike McEwen says he formed his current team of B.J. Neufeld, Matt Wozniak and Denni Neufeld only two years ago with the goal of making it to the 2009 Olympic Curling Trials in Edmonton next December.

Now, after winning the Manitoba Curling Tour championship, getting a berth into next month's Safeway Championship and finding himself No. 13 on the World Curling Tour money list, McEwen, clearly, has arrived.

If there's still a Big Three in Manitoba men's curling, McEwen is on that esteemed list along with his childhood idol Kerry Burtnyk and Jeff Stoughton, both former world champions.

McEwen, the 28-year-old from Brandon who now resides in Winnipeg, takes on the 50-year-old warhorse Burtnyk in the opening draw of the 2009 BDO Classic Canadian Open tonight at 8 p.m. at MTS Centre.

"I remember seeing one headline, 'Jeff, Kerry and Mike?' with a question mark," McEwen said Tuesday. "I think we were pretty pumped to be in that kind of company and we feel that we're right there and deserving of it too.

"We still have things we want to prove, though... we want to show people that we do belong."

McEwen said his foursome's true step into the limelight, probably its biggest turn-the-corner, momentum-building statement, was in Quebec City in the second Capital One Grand Slam of Curling event earlier this season.

The rink went 4-1 through the round-robin and beat former world champion Glen Howard for the first time. "We've played Glen probably six, seven times and we had lost six, seven times," McEwen said with a chuckle.

"So just getting over a hump like that... we lost a very tight quarter-final to (Brad Gushue) in an extra end, but that really felt like a turning point.

"And then we carried that through to the Canada Cup in Edmonton and made the semifinal against (defending world champion and two-time BDO defending champion Kevin) Martin.

"I think those two weekends were something where we showed we could be consistent and could play with those big teams."

McEwen said the goal the unit set two years ago might have seemed far-fetched and beyond reach. But they've played themselves into a pre-Olympic Trials event in Prince George, B.C., with a shot to get to the Trials in Edmonton in December.

And they'll also be among the favourites -- with Burtnyk and Stoughton, of course -- to win the Safeway Championship in Selkirk Feb. 18-22 and represent Manitoba at the Tim Hortons Brier in Calgary March 7-15.

Given his druthers, as important as competing in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics would be, "I've always wanted to play in a Brier and that's never going to change. I would probably take the Brier if I had to choose between them.

"The dream has always been the Brier since I was a little kid, so that's still foremost."



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