Thrill of victory, agony of defeat for Canadian skeleton racers 

Jon Montgomery first Canadian to win a medal in Whistler

 

Canada tasted the sweet thrill of victory along with the bitter pill of defeat Friday in back to back skeleton races that saw the first Canadian medal of the 2010 Games won in Whistler.

Like the track itself, Friday night's men's and women's skeleton finals in the chilly evening air under a clear night sky were a roller coaster ride of emotions for Canadians.

In the end there was one gold medal, one disqualified racer and a teary athlete who was expected to win a medal but missed it in the last heat.

"It's outrageous, unbelievable - all those things rolled into a big ball," said Canada's fourth gold medal winner of the Games, Jon Montgomery. "It's bearing down on me pretty heavy because I don't even have words to describe it."

In his nail-biting fourth and final run, Montgomery's speed got faster and faster as he flew face-first down the track. He posted a combined four-run time of three minutes, 29.73 seconds, putting him in the top spot with one racer to go. The crowd was on its feet, holding its breath in collective anticipation as Martins Dukurs of Latvia, the frontrunner, launched down the track.

From the start he appeared to be in the lead, but that lead began inching away as he sped toward the finish line.

And then he hit the last curve, Thunderbird, what Dukurs later described as his "black curve."

"All training, I was fighting with this curve," he said. "I was losing a 10 th (of a second) every time."

His time of 3:29:80 brought him a silver medal and secured the gold for Montgomery. Alexander Tretyakov of Russia took bronze.

"I didn't feel as though it was beyond my capabilities and out of reach and so perhaps that's what helped me keep it in perspective and stay calm about it all," said Montgomery of his victory.

His elation, fuelled by a manic crowd, was obvious, as he jumped with both feet onto the top podium spot, threw his hands out wide in the air and accepted his flowers.

It was just what the crowd was looking for after watching Canada's Melissa Hollingsworth come so close but missing a medal less than an hour earlier in the women's final.

Heading into her last run, Hollingsworth was sitting second with every chance of making it to the top.

But early on in her final run things just didn't go her way.

The agony of her defeat was obvious when she realized at the finish she had missed a medal and was in fourth place with one runner still to go.

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