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Olympian Jon Montgomery Makes His Pitch

Olympian Jon Montgomery Makes His Pitch

The ultimate entry point would of course be a dedicated television channel for amateur sports, something that might allow monies to flow back into the development of athletes while confirming that the people we only seem to care about every four years actually do compete between Olympic Games.

But Canada has not been up to that, not even with the momentum gained by the successful 2010 Vancouver Olympics. We have been unable – we being fans, media and corporate sponsors – to prevent ourselves from falling back into our old, benign ways.

So Jon Montgomery, Canada’s king of the mountain, has released a new on-line video playing off the popular Joe Canada rant, with a nod toward Canadian slam poet Shane Koyczan’s performance of We Are More from the opening ceremony in Vancouver. The video, which can be seen on the website of the men’s skeleton gold medalist and his wife, prospective Olympic women’s skeleton pilot Darla Deschamps urges Canada’s Olympic athletes in London to Git’er Done:

It was the brainchild of Russell Reimer of Manifesto Sports Management, who counts Montgomery as one of his clients. A Calgary-based crew, headed by producer Josh Wong and director Marcus Fryia, donated their time for the filming, which was done at Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in Calgary.

Montgomery is hoping that the video gets enough play on social media that it becomes a recognizable part of an effort to get behind Canadian athletes in London. He believes Canadians have the desire to become “invested in these Games like they were in 2010, because of the feelings they had at the time and the sense that we as Canadians were in it to win it.” Better a re-tweet than nothing.

“There’s not as much stuff for Canadians to feed their appetite,” Montgomery said in a telephone interview. “Because of the fact that 2010 was a home Games, there was money to be made marketing to the masses, so there was more of an effort and more money involved to get more commercials with Canadian content.

“I just see a bit of a desire that’s not being filled for stuff leading up to 2012. This is a way to try to do something about it.”

Montgomery’s win in the men’s skeleton event and his beer-chugging stroll through Whistler Village turned him into a national house-guest, and he has little time for those who would roll their eyes at the notion that this stuff actually works.

“The thing is, because lot of amateur athletics is toiling in anonymity, you sometimes have a sense that it’s a really selfish endeavour,” Montgomery said. “Although you desperately want to see what you’re made of and what you can achieve as an individual athletically … it’s nice to know that it means something to other people, and that it does have purpose and that people can be inspired.”

Montgomery sat out the past FIBT skeleton season to work on a new sled with the aim of defending his gold medal in Sochi in 2014. His foil in Whistler, silver medalist Martins Dukurs of Latvia, has supplanted the Germans as the measuring stick on the World Cup tour, with three consecutive overall world titles. Montgomery is on the third version of a sled he’s designing and says he’s wrapping his head around the notion of full-tilt training to take aim at Dukurs in Sochi, but like many Canadians, Montgomery will also be watching how Canada’s summer athletes perform.

Winning a gold medal hasn’t only put him in an exclusive club; it’s given him a different vantage point.

“Any time you get a backstage pass or get a peek behind the magic curtain, you have a different perspective of things,” Montgomery said. “I know what it’s like to stage in the opening ceremonies in the tunnel underneath, before you walk out in front of the masses in the arena. It’s given me a new perspective, and greater appreciation.”

By Jeff Blair/The Globe and Mail/July 16, 2012