Jon Montgomery missed out on his chance to defend his Olympic gold medal by a fraction of a second.
The 34-year-old Russell native, who won Olympic gold in 2010 in Vancouver, had his best World Cup finish of the season, placing seventh in Saturday’s race in Igls, Austria, but that wasn’t enough to get a third Canadian sled into next month’s Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. Montgomery was eighth in the first run and ninth in his second run to finish as the top Canadian, a total of 1.91 seconds behind winner Martins Dukurs of Latvia.
Canada will have two men’s competitors in Sochi — John Fairbairn and Eric Neilson. Germany and Russia are the only countries that will have three sleds in the competition. Montgomery needed to finish in fourth place — he was 0.43 seconds out of fourth — on Saturday to overtake Russia’s third-ranked slider, Nikita Tregybov, in the world rankings and qualify for Sochi.
"One small change here or there would surely have made all the difference in the world, however I’m not the type to dwell on ifs and buts," Montgomery told the Brandon Sun in an email from Austria.
"I am super pleased that my last two runs were great. I was rounding into form that I can honestly say are indicative of the quality of slider that I am. I have not had that for a while."
Montgomery took the 2011-12 season off to design his own sled and struggled to regain his Olympic form, but he stands by his decisions and his efforts to remain competitive with the world’s top sliders.
"It all boils down to the fact that I had to take some measures and big risks to make sure I did everything possible to successfully defend our medal if I got the chance," he said. "I have zero regrets. …I gave it every ounce of energy and shred of dedication I had. There is no loss in failure, only in not trying. The disappointment will fade, but the pride I have in the work I did will remain strong."
On Friday, Brandon native Cassie Hawrysh’s bid to qualify for the Olympics was officially quashed when Canada pulled out of the final World Cup race and as a result failed to qualify a third sled in women’s skeleton.
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