It’s hard enough for an athlete to go on an Olympic journey alone. Getting to the Games can require sacrifice. There’s less time for family, friends and living a balanced life.
Now imagine two people, in one household, trying to get to the Olympics, at the same time, during the same event.
That’s the exact scenario this week at the Canadian curling trials in Ottawa for the husband and wife duos of Mike and Dawn McEwen and Brent Laing and Jennifer Jones.
“I think we decided to just do our own thing,” says Dawn McEwen, who plays lead for Jones’s team. “They really haven’t had any TV games so I haven’t even had the chance to watch. It would probably elevate the stress level.”
Jones and Dawn McEwen went on a magical run during the trials in Winnipeg four years ago. Their husbands watched them not only win the right to wear the maple leaf in Sochi, but also go on to capture Olympic gold.
“She had a great week and we didn’t that go-around,” Laing, who plays second for Kevin Koe, says of his wife. “We have some experience with this.
“She’s one of the reasons I can deal with these situations better than before because I have someone who has been through it.”
All four of these curlers are undefeated so far in Ottawa. Not that their spouses would notice.
“We do chat but we’re at different hotels,” Mike McEwen says. “I guess I’ll see her at the end of this? Or maybe the one time we have a game on the ice at the same time.”
That will happen Tuesday afternoon when Jones and Dawn McEwen play Casey Scheidegger’s rink while Mike McEwen takes on Koe and Laing. The wives will be on one sheet while the husbands play against each other on the sheet right beside them.
“I’m not going to lie, I’ll peek over and check it out, but first and foremost I have to focus on our game,” Dawn McEwen says.
Mike McEwen was off to a strong start at the trials in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)
With Dawn and Mike McEwen staying in different hotels, they’re not really spending time together in Ottawa. Their two-year-old daughter is being taken care of this week by their parents. They text. FaceTime. But even that is limited.
Dawn says it’s really nothing new for them.
“It’s been so long that we’ve been playing in big events together,” she says. “We’ll touch base at the end of the day if we have the chance, but for the most part we do our own things.”
Jones and Laing are playing it a little differently. They have two young daughters who are also being taken care of by their parents this week. But they’re trying to connect with each other a little more than Mike and Dawn.
“We talk about curling all the time,” Laing says. “When it’s family time it’s family time, but we’re talking about curling all the time.”
Jennifer Jones, centre, and Dawn McEwen, right, with teammate Jill Officer, want to defend their Olympic title. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)
And what about living the Olympic dream together?
“That’s the only way to top what they did in Sochi, for us to both be there,” Mike McEwen says. “You have to medal as well, but that would be hard to describe that feeling. It would be out of this world.”
Dawn agrees. “It would be such a wild and amazing thing to come true,” she says.
Laing isn’t looking that far ahead, knowing a lot has to go right for both him and Jones to get to the Games together.
“We haven’t really talked about it a ton but it’s a dream we both have,” he says. “It’s kind of become our family dream. She’s done it and it would be something special if we could go together.”
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