Local Clubs: RCMP/Ottawa Curling Club
By Ethan Diamandas
Curler Dawn McEwen remembers her gold medal victory in Sochi quite well.
“In 2014, obviously [having] never been to Olympics before, it was just a dream come true,” she told the Sports Pages from her family’s bubble in Winnipeg, Man., before leaving for Beijing.
Read more: Fate brings McEwen to Winnipeg, Sochi
That said, a lot has happened since McEwen achieved her Olympic dream. Her rink — skipped by Jennifer Jones — missed out on the Pyeongchang Games but qualified for Beijing in a dominant display at the Canadian trials. McEwen now comes into the 2022 Winter Olympics with a very different perspective.
Life has picked up new meaning for the 41-year-old. Eight years ago, curling was one of her sole focuses; now she’s a mother of two small girls. Her youngest, Avalon, was born in 2021.
To McEwen, Beijing is a chance to set a strong example for her children.
“I’m really excited to take this opportunity as something that the girls can watch mom and see her on the world stage,” McEwen said. “And be inspired by watching me with my work ethic with curling, especially older [daughter], Vienna, she sees it every day.
“If I can be an example for them, then it’s very fulfilling for me.”
But McEwen also has something to prove to herself, too. After taking time off to manage her pregnancy during the shortened 2020-2021 season, the Ottawa native — whom TSN named the best female lead in Canadian history in 2019 — said she won’t be rusty when the first Olympic stones are thrown.
“I think that was really important for me to come back this season,” McEwen said. “I worked my butt off physically; got on the ice in June; I hit the gym as soon as I could; I just wanted to be in the best shape … And I feel like I’ve been able to attain that.”
McEwen said she wanted to show future mothers it’s possible to have a successful career and an enriching family life, which, in McEwen’s case, has been especially possible thanks to the support group around her.
Team Jones operates a five-woman rotational lineup, where fellow Ottawa native, teammate Lisa Weagle, will sometimes step in as lead.
Weagle covered for McEwen during her pregnancy, and that level of trust and support on the ice will be key to the rink’s success in Beijing, McEwen said.
“If there’s a miss out there, we learn from it,” she said. “We don’t get down on it. The support is the main thing for us, and just being a unit. I think if we can carry that on then that’ll be very beneficial for us.”
Read more: From rivals to teammates, curlers Lisa Weagle and Dawn McEwen set to rep Ottawa in Beijing
Read more: Lisa Weagle leaning into 5th-player role for second crack at Olympic curling gold
Support for McEwen’s gold medal quest has also come from some familiar faces from the nation’s capital, where McEwen learned to curl. Jenn Hanna, McEwen’s former teammate and daughter of her old coach, Robert, sent her a message in the fall after Team Jones qualified for the Olympics.
“I’m very grateful for the opportunity to learn from the people that I’ve been able to learn from in the sport from Ottawa,” McEwen said. “And that’s something that I’ll never forget.”
But once she settles into the Olympic village and heads to the ice surface for competition, some other thoughts may creep through her mind.
“I think that I would be lying if I said that I wouldn’t like to have something left out there for when I’m done curling, and kind of have a legacy,” McEwen said.
McEwen didn’t outright say Beijing would be her last Olympics, but as she reflected on her career, she jokingly admitted she’s “no spring chicken anymore.” At the very least, McEwen is on her final stretch, which makes every moment she gets to curl a special one.
“At this point in my career, I just have a lot of gratitude,” she said. “I’ve been very fortunate to have had the success that we’ve had. And for me at this point, I just want to lay it all out there, try and work my butt off.”
HELP SHINE A LIGHT ON LOCAL SPORT! The Ottawa Sports Pages has proudly provided a voice for local sport for over 10 years, but we need your help to continue another 10 and beyond. Please donate to the Ottawa Sports Pages Fund today.