Road To The Olympic Games

Olympics Winter

Canada's Montgomery wins skeleton gold

Jon Montgomery of Russell, Man., has won the gold medal in men's skeleton at the Vancouver Olympics.

When Canada needed him most, Jon Montgomery showed up.

The 30-year-old from Russell, Man., entered the Vancouver Olympics with an outside shot at winning a medal in men's skeleton.

On Friday, he left the Whistler Sliding Centre as an Olympic champion.

Ranked fifth in the World Cup standings, Montgomery sat second overall through the first three of four races.

Entering the final race, on the heels of Mellisa Hollingsworth's disappointing fifth-place finish in the women's skeleton final earlier, Montgomery raced his finest when the pressure was on.

"We're No. 1, baby!!" yelled Montgomery after his victory.

In the final run, Montgomery ripped down the track in 52.36 seconds and his cumulative time of three minutes 29.73 seconds guaranteed him at least a silver medal.

But Latvia's Martins Dukurs, the current FIBT World Cup leader, was the overall leader heading into the final run.

Close finish

Dukurs looked good through the start of his run, but lost speed in the second half. His time of 52.61 seconds gave him an overall time of three minutes 29.8 seconds, handing Montgomery the gold medal.

"I was biting my nails for sure," said Montgomery, recalling watching Dukurs come down for the final run.

"I started to realize there was a possibility that I could win this race on his exit into Corner 7. Those [interval] numbers got lower and lower until he was in the plus side and I lost my mind."

Russia's Alexander Tretyakov won the bronze with a final run of 52.70 seconds and an overall time 3:30.75.

Montgomery's gold-medal performance matches the win by Calgary's Duff Gibson at the Torino Games in 2006.

Teammate Jeff Pain had won silver at the Torino Games. On Friday, the 39-year-old from Calgary finished ninth overall, a respectable Olympic finale for one of the most celebrated skeleton athletes in Canadian history.

Canada's Michael Douglas was disqualified just before his third run because he was late getting his sled to a pre-race inspection. The 39-year-old from Kleinburg, Ont., sat in seventh place after two runs.  

Montgomery's performance came just hours after Hollingsworth's fifth-place finish in the women's skeleton. The 29-year-old from Eckville, Alta., was the overall World Cup champion this season and an overwhelming favourite to reach the Olympic podium.

With files from The Canadian Press