THEY are Manitoba curling's power couple.
Mike McEwen skips what just might now be the top men's curling team in the province, while Dawn Askin is the lead for the top women's team in the country, the Jennifer Jones foursome.
Individually, they are dominant curlers and very, very busy people. And together? They are dominant curlers and very, very busy people trying to find the time to also be a couple.
"The good part," laughs McEwen, "is we're not together enough in the winter to find any time to fight."
"Sometimes it's hard," says Askin.
This weekend is typical of the challenges faced in trying to fit two competitive -- and very conflicting -- curling schedules into a serious relationship.
The McEwen team is enjoying a rare weekend at home in Winnipeg, the lone off-weekend sandwiched in a seven-week grind that sees his team playing every weekend but this one.
Alas, Askin is at the far end of the country this weekend, playing with Jones at a Grand Slam event in New Glasgow, N.S.
And so it goes for a couple who met through curling, remain together both despite and because of curling and, in a way, kind of changed curling in this province.
Askin and McEwen first met when her family billetted the McEwen team in Ottawa for a junior bonspiel more than 10 years ago -- let that be a lesson to all you fathers of curling daughters out there.
The two -- she's 29, he's 30 -- went their separate ways for a time before getting reacquainted in their mid-20s.
"We did the long-distance thing for a few years," McEwen recalls, "and then three years ago we decided to buy a place together in Winnipeg and I moved from Brandon and she moved from Ottawa."
Coincidentally, Askin decided to move to Winnipeg just a month or two before Jones went looking for a new lead. The two knew each other on the ice -- Askin, the lead for Ontario's Jenn Hanna at the time, watched in disbelief as Jones authored a last-rock, in-off-for-four to win the 2005 Canadian women's final -- and the match has paid huge dividends.
In three full seasons with the Jones foursome, Askin has won three Canadian women's titles.
What's more, McEwen says Askin has also made him a better curler.
"It's pretty admirable how hard she works, how hard that whole team works, to do what they've done," he says. "I see what they do and it's sure rubbed off on me.
"And if she sees me not doing my part on my team, I'm sure she'd tell me."
Aw shucks, says Askin. "That's nice of Mike to say," she says, adding the feeling is mutual. "We're motivating for each other," Askin says. "They want to be as good as they can be and we're the same."