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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, February 20, 2010

Canadian wins one for home crowd

 •  Bodacious Bode gets super-G silver

Associated Press

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Jon Montgomery of Canada celebrates his gold-medal win in the skeleton. He finished four runs down the Whistler Sliding Center track in 3 minutes, 29.73 seconds.

MICHAEL SOHN | Associated Press

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WHISTLER, British Columbia Jon Montgomery has a maple leaf and "Canada" tattooed above his heart.

Now he's got something to hang next to it.

The redhead with the scruffy beard and penchant for speed, won the Olympic gold medal in men's skeleton last 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 the home crowd over the moon.

Wearing the No. 1 bib and leading the field, Dukurs was last 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, 30, tried all the sports hockey, baseball, track and golf, before settling on the adrenaline-fix that is skeleton.

"Because I couldn't make the NHL," he said with a laugh.