By Dan Plouffe
Ottawa natives Dawn McEwen and Lisa Weagle are each headed back to the Olympic Games for the second time in their careers – and for the first as teammates – following their victorious run at the Nov. 20-28 Tim Hortons Curling Trials in Saskatoon.
“I’m super emotional right now,” McEwen said in Curling Canada’s post-game media conference. “It’s such a blur of emotions, but the fact that we get to go back to the Olympics is a total dream-come-true. Just to get to one is amazing, so I feel very lucky, very privileged.”
McEwen and Weagle were part of skip Jennifer Jones’ five-player Winnipeg-based rink that blasted out to a 4-0 start at the trials en route to a 5-3 round robin record a semi-final berth.
Team Jones knocked off Krista McCarville 8-3 in the semi to advance to the final against undefeated and #1 world-ranked Tracy Fleury. It was a back-and-forth contest with unimaginable late drama.
Trailing by one point in the 10th, but lying one with an opportunity for an open hit to score the decisive points that would send her team to the Olympics, Jones missed and was left with the unenviable need to steal in the extra end.
But the 2014 Olympic champions created a tough final shot for Fleury in the 11th, and when her stone clipped a guard, Team Jones was bound for Beijing.
“We knew we could hopefully try to put some pressure on them in the 11th, and it worked out,” said McEwen, 41. “I was pretty shocked in that moment, and then I just started bawling.”
McEwen moved to Winnipeg – her husband (Mike McEwen)’s hometown – in 2007 after growing up in Ottawa and reaching a Scotties national final with Jenn Hanna. The University of Ottawa grad curled an exceptional 99% and 92% in the playoff round.
“I felt very relaxed and free,” McEwen noted. “Like I say, I feel very privileged to have had the experiences and success in curling. I was able to maintain a lot of composure and it felt great in a big game like that.”
Weagle, who’d played in earlier contents, was watching the crucial moments from the end of the rink.
“My heart rate was through the roof. (Coach) Viktor (Kjell) kept telling me to keep taking deep breaths,” Weagle recounted. “It was nerve-racking, but I just believed in the team so much.”
Weagle ‘happy this is how my story is turning out’
Weagle’s previous Olympic appearance came in 2018 as a member of Rachel Homan’s Ottawa Curling Club rink that went on to finish sixth in Pyeongchang. Team Homan, which went 2-6 to finish at the bottom of the trials standings, elected to replace Weagle with Sarah Wilkes in March 2020.
“Things happen for a reason, and I’m really happy that the opportunity came up to join this team, and I’m happy this is how my story is turning out from everything that has happened,” added the 36-year-old, “When Jenn called me and asked me to join the team, she said this is what we were going to do. She told me, and I believed her. We’ve just had that incredible belief in each other, and in our process, and through the highs and lows, and here we are.”
Though she was an opponent at the time, Weagle told the Ottawa Sports Pages while competing at the Canadian trials for the 2018 Olympics in Ottawa that McEwen was nonetheless an inspiration to her.
“Dawn’s a great curler,” Weagle highlighted. “She’s an amazing lead and someone I’ve always chased. And her being from Ottawa is pretty cool, that means that we both kind of have that connection.”
Other players with connections to the capital who competed at the trials included Lynn Kreviazuk (3-5 with Team Harrison), Emma Miskew (2-6 Team Homan), and on the men’s side: John Morris (6-2, semi-finalist Team Koe), Wes Forget (1-7 Team Horgan), and Mat Camm and Brent Laing (3-5 Team Epping).
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