Close doesn't cut it

CON GRIWKOWSKY -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:32 AM ET

Whoa! Whoa! Too late. Too deep.

Steal of one. Another year done.

As Mark Johnson watched his final rock slide down the ice, he saw his Brier dream melt away.

So close. Johnson had never been this close before. He's not sure if he can get this close again.

"Mark, in another province, would probably have been in two or three Brier by now," said Kevin Martin. "I said to my family earlier if we don't win today, I'd have no problem cheering for Mark. I feel kind of bad for him. It's a tough province to get out of."

Johnson is curling as well as he ever had been.

He's made a concerted effort to improve this year and has become one of curling's elite teams.

Coming into this weekend, he had the No. 7-ranked rink in the world. But this in Alberta, where Nos. 1, 2 and 5 were also in the field.

Still, he beat No. 1 Martin in the pool winner's game Saturday night to get a bye into the final where he lost the rematch on his last rock.

"What can I say?" said Johnson, whose team stopped No. 2-ranked Randy Ferbey's provincial winning streak at 37 games. "If we make that last one, we still have a chance to win the game.

"His last shot was absolutely perfect. He got the little roll that made it difficult for us and the bottom fell out."

One shot. All that hard work.

"I'm just real tired - I'm getting old," said Johnson.

"I've been trying for such a long time. It's just so difficult.

"We'll have to see what we're doing next year."

Johnson has been fighting off a cold all week and has spent many restless nights trying to make the best of his chance.

"I haven't had many great sleeps or anything," said Johnson. "That really didn't affect my game today or at all.

"I'm just very disappointed in myself that I gave him three (in the third end). That was a big turning point in the game."

Johnson fought back but in the end, his Brier dream slipped away as his rock continued to slide past the T-line.


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