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McEwen calls it a career

World, Olympic and national champion voted greatest female lead of all-time

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One of the finest front-end players in curling history is calling it a career.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 12/03/2022 (265 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

One of the finest front-end players in curling history is calling it a career.

Dawn McEwen, lead for the perennially successful Jennifer Jones team out of Winnipeg’s St. Vital Club, announced her retirement Saturday.

McEwen spent 15 years throwing first for Jones and won just about everything there is to win on the pebbled ice, capturing Olympic gold in 2014 in Sochi, a pair of world titles (2008, 2018) and five national Scotties crowns.

McEwen said it’s still difficult for her to fathom her long list of accomplishments.

Kirsten Wall (left), Dawn McEwen, Jill Officer, Kaitlyn Lawes and skip Jennifer Jones brought home the gold from the 2014 Winter Olympics. (Wong Maye-E / The Canadian Press files)

“It’s insane, with the Scotties and worlds and Olympics. Just so many amazing moments,” she said, in a phone chat with the Free Press. “How do you pick one moment? We’ve always been good at reflecting on things and have been really grateful for what we’ve been able to achieve.

“To have these relationships that go beyond curling, too, the people I’ve met and the friends I’ve made, the family we’ve formed, I know it’s cliche but it’s a dream come true.”

McEwen and her husband, Mike, have two young daughters, Vienna, 6, and 11-month-old Avalon.

The Ottawa product headed west to Winnipeg to be with her then-boyfriend in 2007 as a curling free agent.

“I moved here for a guy and was crossing my fingers I could find a curling team,” she said, laughing.

The stars definitely aligned when she was invited to join Jones, Cathy Overton-Clapham and Jill Officer.

“It’s almost like it was a meant-to-be thing,” Dawn said. “I came here not knowing anything about who I could play with. The ironic part is I met Jill (Officer) at the ‘05 Scotties and developed a bit of a friendship, and so I reached out to her and said, ‘Hey, I’m moving to Manitoba. Do you have any thoughts on who I could approach?’ And then it panned out with them.

“The success that we’ve had over the years, the amazing life moments, it’s crazy.”

Three years ago, McEwen was voted the greatest lead of all-time in women’s curling in a poll conducted by TSN.

Speaking Saturday, Jones concurred wholeheartedly.

Mike and Dawn McEwen with their daughter Vienna in 2020. Vienna’s little sister Avalon was born last year. (Jesse Boily / Winnipeg Free Press files)

“Best that’s ever played, no question in my mind,” said the veteran skip, by phone from her home near Barrie, Ont. “She was consistent every game, every day, every event. But it wasn’t just her shots, it was all the other things she brings to the table. Her personality, her work ethic, the teammate she was on and off the ice.

“She truly is one of the best people you’re ever going to meet.”

The Jones team prevailed in dramatic fashion at the most recent Canadian Olympic Trials in late November to earn a return trip to the Winter Games but fell short of the podium in Beijing last month.

Jones, with third Kaitlyn Lawes, second Jocelyn Peterman, McEwen and alternate Lisa Weagle, finished 5-4 in round-robin play but missed the playoffs.

McEwen said the disappointing finish had no bearing on her decision. In fact, the 2021-22 competitive season was always going to be her swan song.

“I knew coming into the season it would be my last one,” she said. “It’s just a good time in my life. I have so much to be thankful for in my curling career. After having not played last year and being pregnant and the pandemic, it actually gave me a taste for what it’s like to be not curling.

“I knew coming into this year I wanted to work my butt off, and try and be in a position to get to the Olympics knowing it would be my last chance. So, it was this amazing cherry on top to represent Canada (in Beijing) and I’m very grateful.”

Lawes said there’s no way she could pick just one special memory of her time with McEwen.

‘How do you pick one moment? We’ve always been good at reflecting on things and have been really grateful for what we’ve been able to achieve’– Dawn McEwen

“We travelled the world together — Japan, Thailand, China, Turkey, Switzerland, Norway, Siberia, Austria, Sweden and many, many more great places,” said Lawes. “Dawn and I roomed together at the Olympics, both in Sochi, and Beijing. That is a bond and memory I’ll never forget.

“I had a front-row seat to watching her do her thing on the ice, and be the amazing mom she is, phoning home to talk to her family when the time change permitted. I was inspired by her daily, and will continue to be.

“I am so happy for Dawn and her retirement. I hope we can celebrate her successes and give her the going out party she deserves,” she said.

McEwen still has two major events on the schedule, a pair of Grand Slam of Curling tour events in Toronto and Regina, in the spring.

Paul Chiasson / THE CANADIAN PRESS files Lead Dawn McEwen (left) second Jill Officer, third Kaitlyn Lawes, skip Jennifer Jones after winning the World Women’s Curling Championship in 2018.

She’ll miss the off-ice moments with teammates as much as the thrill of battling against the elite of curling.

“It’s definitely a bit of both. Moments we spent together, gaining those life lessons that I’ll pass along to my own girls, that are really special to me, too, as well as competing,” McEwen said. “It’s just an array of special things I’ll take away from my time in the sport.

“When I think of Jennifer Jones, I think of leader. Honestly, I wouldn’t have had this success, this longevity without her. She’s the type of person that always tried to think of ways to make us better… to make us comfortable and able to get the job done.”

jason.bell@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @WFPJasonBell

Canada’s Dawn McEwen says she planned to retire long before taking part in the Beijing Winter Olympics. (>Brynn Anderson / The Associated Press files)
Jason Bell

Jason Bell
Sports editor

Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).

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