November 23, 2011
Brier has crowded legacy
By CON GRIWKOWSKY, QMI Agency
EDMONTON - Mark Johnson has a four-word task: Tough Act To Follow.
At the heyday of his curling career, Johnson was known as Canada's top curling cop, skipping winners in two Canadian Police Championships.
Earlier this year, he skipped a team to the 2011 World Senior Championship.
The now-retired policeman has found something else to do, in addition to his new job as the manager of the Avonair Curling Club.
When he was asked to be skipper of the 2013 Brier organizing committee, he was happy to take on the task.
Sorta. The 2005 Brier and 2007 World Championship held in Edmonton both set attendance records that stand to this day.
"This is the first behind-the-scenes involvement I've had with the Brier," said Johnson, who has done community work with the Bissell Centre and headed Special Olympics organizations.
For the 2013 Brier, he's starting right at the top.
"I don't know how that happened, exactly," said Johnson, who lost two Alberta men's finals and another two semis. "Usually, you have to work your way up. It's going to be an amazing experience."
Johnson will the first to admit it's tough to equal the charismatic leadership of Jackie-Rae Greening, who has fronted a couple of previous successful Edmonton events.
"It's a huge legacy," said Johnson. "We've had some great shows here over the past few years. With Jackie-Rae hosting the last two big events, she's an amazing chairwoman.
"I've got her phone number on speed dial. I'll be using her (expertise) quite a bit."
Under Greening's watch, Edmonton set attendance records in both the 2005 Brier (281,985) and 2007 Worlds.
"Obviously, that would be an amazing accomplishment if we were to set an attendance record," said Johnson. "Is it a goal? Absolutely, it is.
"Anybody that hosts one wants to set a record. People have fun whether there's 300,000 or 250,000. That's really the main goal"