The redhead with the scruffy beard and penchant for speed, won the Olympic gold medal in men's skeleton on Friday night, snatching it away from Latvia's Martins Dukurs, who had been nearly flawless during three heats, but made a critical mistake within feet of the finish.
Montgomery completed his four runs down the Whistler Sliding Center track, a course he knows so well he could probably navigate it blindfolded, in 3 minutes, 29.73 seconds
- .07 seconds faster than Dukurs. Russia's Alexander Tretyakov won the bronze.
Montgomery entered the fourth heat trailing Dukurs, the World Cup champion, by .18 seconds. But on his last run, Montgomery put the pressure on the lightning-fast Latvian by laying down a blistering time of 52.36 that put him atop the leader board and sent an already-crazed home crowd over the moon.
Wearing the No. 1 bib and leading the field, Dukurs was last and as he sprinted down the start ramp.
"I was biting my nails, for sure," Montgomery said.
Dukurs began carving up the ice, on his way to Latvia's first gold medal in the Winter Olympics, when suddenly he lost his line in the final curve, a long, sweeping right known as "Thunderbird." Dukurs weaved up and down along the banked walls and when he finally came down, he brushed hard against the side, losing valuable seconds.
As he slid across the finish line, the time showed Dukurs was second. Montgomery screamed "Yes, Yes!" and pumped his fist.
"I lost my mind," he said.
Montgomery hugged and kissed his girlfriend, Darla, ripped off his helmet and wrapped himself in the red-and-white Canadian flag.
His come-from-behind win helped erase some of the host nation's disappointment after Mellisa Hollingsworth, favored to win gold in women's skeleton, finished a distant fifth.
American Zach Lund, competing in his first official Olympics after being banned in 2006, was fifth.
For these games, Montgomery decided to wear a freshly painted helmet, which had bold white strokes on a black background with a turtle on top. The 30-year-old got the idea for the sea creature after he and some teammates went on a preseason retreat with a sports psychologist, who asked them to look inside and find their own power animal.
Montgomery's was a turtle.
This guy is no tortoise, though.
And he's quick to point out it's J-O-N, not J-O-H-N.
His father, Eldon, named his son in honor of Stan Jonathan, a fire-plug NHL forward who delivered a famous beatdown on Montreal's Pierre Bouchard in the 1978 Stanley Cup final. Although he was giving up several inches and many pounds to Bouchard, Jonathan inflicted massive punishment with a flurry of rights and lefts, a pounding that still attracts lots of viewers on YouTube.
Turns out Jon Montgomery has some fight, too.
"Fantastic," said his Canadian teammate, Jeff Pain. "He deserves it. The last three weeks, he's just been sliding unconscious. Fantastic."
Like almost every Canadian kid, Montgomery was on skates not long after learning to walk. He tried all the sports
- hockey, baseball, track and golf, before settling on the adrenaline-fix that is skeleton.