'Toba Slider geared up for Olys

By KIRK PENTON, QMI AGENCY

Each week a Sun staffer gets to know a sports figure a little better in Up Close. This week, Kirk Penton delivers the second and final installment with Russell's Jon Montgomery, a skeleton racer who will represent Canada at the Olympics in Vancouver.

SUN: Tell us about your family.

JM: As for my mom and dad, dad was an educator and teacher for 35, 40 years and now is a big part of the community as far as town council and stuff is concerned. My mom's been a realtor since the 80s, so she's been a big part of the community and a big part of the chamber of commerce. So they're very community-oriented people. I've got two older sisters, one nine years older and the other five years older. They're both in the city (Winnipeg) as teachers. I was strongly encouraged to not get into the teaching profession, because they've recognized in me that I didn't have necessarily the patience or skill set to become a good teacher.

SUN: Can you give us all the gory details of your worst skeleton crash?

JM: The toughest week was the end of my second season in Lake Placid, New York. I had my ass handed to me on a regular basis that week. I think I crashed four times, lost my sled three times and only just managed to get into the race with doing enough safe runs that week. The first crash I had, I remember the feeling of weightlessness and wondering, 'Oooh, this is something new. I wonder what's going on here?' And before I could think or react, my face was being driven into the ice, and my helmet was flipped up over my eyes, and I ripped all the skin off the top of my lip and nearly broke my nose and lost my teeth. That was the beginning of a long week of crashing and painful memories and bruises. That was the last race of the season. I did manage to do two safe runs on the very last day and head home to Calgary. Some of my friends who still compete in the sport say to me they didn't expect me to be back the next season after that performance. I was determined that it wasn't going to get the best of me. I was definitely going to see what I could make of the sport and came back the next fall, and it was definitely a complete 180 from the last race to the next race. I ended up qualifying or tying for fourth place on the national team that year. That was my coming out party.

SUN: What's the fastest you've gone? Are you able to clock yourselves?

JM: The fastest I've travelled as far as speeds are concerned is 143 (km/h), and we did that this fall in Whistler. We don't know what the track is going to be like during the Games, but we've got every expectation that we could be up around that mark or higher, depending on the ice conditions during the Games.

SUN: That's hard to wrap your mind around.

JM: Drive around the Perimeter Highway and open your door up and put your face a couple inches from the ground, and you'll get a pretty good idea of what it might feel like to go that fast on a skeleton sled.

SUN: You're an auctioneer, too?

JM: I don't know what it is about the oddball vehicles I drive, the sports I participate in, the chosen career path I've ended up in. I guess I don't wanna get too bored.

SUN: Who's your skeleton nemesis?

JM: Any of the Germans. They're a bunch of p-----heads. It's a pretty good community. If I could punch anybody in the face, though, it'd be Michi Halilovic from Germany.

SUN: And he'll find that funny?

JM: I don't know. I don't really care.

SUN: I see. Do skeleton racers get as many chicks as Tiger?

JM: I think I'd be putting my foot in my mouth and doing myself a whole lot of disservice if I said 'Oh, hell yeah,' but Tiger's cleaning up right now, so no.

SUN: TV show you can't miss?

JM: I like House. I did watch all five seasons of Weeds while I was away, though. It's not on right now, but I'm a big House fan.

SUN: Most famous person in your cellphone?

JM: I don't even know who that would be. Oh, as far as Canadians are concerned, Johnny Morris. He's pretty popular.

SUN: Last song played on your iPod?

JM: LMFAO, I'm in Miami Trick. I love that song.

SUN: I understand you have this thing with weird cars. Give us an example.

JM: I just got rid of probably one of the biggest oddball pieces I've ever owned. I had a 2000 Isuzi VehiCROSS. A two-door, moon raker-looking piece of s--- that I ended up luckily selling to some other oddball out there who wanted a strange piece. I thought I'd be married to it forever. Now I'm in a Honda Ridgeline, which is still weird looking, but a hell of a lot more functional than that Isuzu was.

SUN: So do you auctioneer and sell cars still?

JM: This summer I didn't work the Monday to Friday gig. I was concentrating on the training and getting ready for this season. But I did still work at an auto auction once or twice a month on Saturdays for Michener Allen out here (in Calgary).

SUN: What's your goal for Vancouver?

JM: Definitely to stay healthy until the day of the race and then put it down and hopefully get to wear the gold.

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca

POLL