Jon Montgomery isn’t trying to relive his 2010 Olympic memories but he does hope to create some new ones.
The 33-year-old Russell native, who captured Canada’s hearts with his gold-medal-winning skeleton run at the 2010 Vancouver Games — not to mention his fast-talking, beer-chugging jubilation after the race — is facing a key summer as he attempts to regain his Olympic form in time for Sochi in 2014.
“It’d be amazing just to be able to go back and do it for your country again. I think that would be awesome,” Montgomery said of the opportunity to represent Canada in next year’s Winter Olympics in Russia. “Of course it won’t be able to hold a candle to what happened in 2010, but it’s a different event so you can’t expect it to be the same or have the same feelings. I’ll be pretty pumped if I get to go.”
After his golden performance in 2010, Montgomery topped the podium again in the 2010-11 World Cup race at Whistler, B.C., the site of his Olympic victory, but finished the season only ninth in the standings. He took the 2011-12 season off to focus on designing his own sled before returning to competition this past winter, finishing 10th in the World Cup standings and 11th in the overall world men’s rankings.
It’s not quite to the standards Montgomery has set for himself but he believes he’s on the right track, having posted his best five finishes in the final six races.
“It was nice to get back in the saddle again,” he said. “Obviously it didn’t start out quite like I would have hoped and that was from some deficiencies with my equipment, but we rectified that at Christmastime and certainly made some strides forward. So all in all it ended up being definitely a step in the right direction.”
One might consider his decision to take a season off to work on his sled a risk, but in Montgomery’s eyes it was more of a requirement for him to be satisfied he was doing all he could to reach his potential.
“Regardless of the outcome at least I’ll know that I’ve done everything within my power to be as fast as I can … because if you’re thinking your equipment is deficient and hoping that somebody presents you with something that’s faster and you don’t end up meeting your goals, then you’ll always wonder if you could have done more. So at least I’ll know.”
Montgomery’s success on his sled and his personality have kept him a busy man away from the track. He hosted a travel/adventure sport special on the Discovery Channel and has been an analyst for television skeleton coverage as well as the Crashed Ice downhill skating race. This spring and summer he has some speaking engagements planned, but will spend the bulk of his time training for the upcoming skeleton season so that by the fall he’ll be prepared to try and lock up his spot on the Canadian Olympic team.
Montgomery got his first look at the Sochi track this past season, finishing 12th in the World Cup stop there, and while the ice conditions were greeted unfavourably at the time by some sliders, Montgomery believes it’s a track he can have success on.
“I think I’ve got every opportunity to do well, just like any other track in the world,” he said. “I like it. I think the characteristics of the track itself are unique for sure. There’s three uphill portions in it which you don’t have anywhere else in the world, so it adds another element of technicality to being able to navigate the track efficiently and quickly. So I’m looking forward to trying to get quicker there.”