Curling Canada – 2013 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings – Canadian Olympic Curling Trials
Presented by Monsanto

McEwen feeling right at home for Canadian Curling Trials

It would be an understatement to say it’s been a life-changing year for Mike McEwen, who will lead one of four Manitoba teams in the 2013 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings, presented by Monsanto, Dec. 1-8 at Winnipeg’s MTS Centre.

In addition to qualifying for the Canadian Curling Trials, where our men’s and women’s representatives will be crowned for the 2014 Olympic Games, he also shared wedding vows with Dawn Askin – lead for the Jennifer Jones team that will also be part of the field – just over a month ago in Ottawa.

“Everything went pretty smoothly,” said McEwen. “We needed some help with all the arrangements, but thankfully, the mother-in-law came through.”

The newlyweds met in 1999 when McEwen, fresh off his first trip to the Canadian junior men’s curling championship, accepted an invitation to the Ontario Valley Curling Association Junior SuperSpiel and the team was billeted with the Askin family. And, as the saying goes… the rest is history.

But, who would have imagined that nearly 15 years later, the two would be competing on the same ice surface, sharing the Olympic dream?

Now that it’s time to get back to world of competitive curling, McEwen has had his earliest start on the ice. “I’ve never thrown before September-long before, so this a little new,” said McEwen.

Mike McEwen with sweepers Matt Wozniak and Denni Neufeld at the 2009 Road to the Roar Pre-Trials (Photo Michael Burns)

McEwen’s fifth-place finish in the Canadian Team Ranking System at the end of last year’s play secured one of the eight spots in the Roar of the Rings. While the team knew they were in a good position going into the season, they also realized there were no guarantees.

“I was a little stressed for the first couple months of the season… there was a little extra tension,” said McEwen. “You want to get the points early and lock it up. After making a few finals in the early events, we felt pretty good about our chances by November.”

McEwen is excited by the prospect of playing in front of the hometown fans in the MTS Centre. “I’m hoping for a pretty partisan crowd. We’ve played in lots of arenas, but nothing of this magnitude …it will be a bit of an adrenalin rush. I know I have a few boisterous friends that I’m sure will be pretty loud.”

In spite of an outstanding record on the World Curling Tour, McEwen is still waiting for his turn to represent Manitoba at the Tim Hortons Brier. In the past four provincial playdowns, he has fallen short in the championship final three times, and the team bowed out in the semifinal last year.

“The Brier has always been the ultimate goal. With the exception of this year when we have the Trials, the Brier is the pinnacle of our sport. I don’t just want to get there… I want to win it. I can’t explain why things haven’t worked out, but we’re the kind of team that isn’t going to give up… we’ll keep on swinging.”

The McEwen crew, including B.J. Neufeld, Matt Wozniak and Denni Neufeld, have stepped up preparations for the Roar of the Rings, and what could be another life-changing experience.

“The whole team is preparing physically,” said the skip. “We understand that physical shape helps with the mental aspect of the game. In the seven years we’ve been together, we haven’t changed our routine drastically – but we try to add a little something different each year. And with the Trials coming up, we’ve taken our physical training to a new level.”

On the mental side of game, they have the guidance of noted sports psychologist Cal Botterill, who has worked with several National Hockey League teams and Olympic-level athletes.

“He acts as a sounding board for us,” said McEwen. “He helps us refine our thinking a bit more when we’re on the ice. It’s nothing too intrusive… we have good team dynamics, so it’s mostly a matter of some finishing touches.”

One thing the team is doing a little different this year is what McEwen described as a “crazy kind of team-bonding trip” that will take them to China for an invitational competition that includes eight men’s and women’s teams. “It will be an extraordinary trip and a great way to kick off the season.”

“You Gotta Be There” when 16 of the very best teams in the country come to Winnipeg’s MTS Centre for the 2013 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings. Reserve your seats today by clicking here.