He walked into his first Olympic Winter Games ranked No. 5 in the world in skeleton. He leaves as Olympic champion.

Jon Montgomery, of Russell, Manitoba, laid down four gutsy, fast runs and won gold last night at the Whistler Sliding Centre. It took another exceptional final run – 52.36 seconds – to overtake World No. 1 Martin Dukurs who had a 0.18 second lead. Dukurs, the pre-Games favourite for gold, had the final run of the night, but his time of 52.61 was not enough to hang onto gold.

“This is the best day of my life so far and hopefully I have more to come,” Montgomery said.

When the final score flashed, he pumped his arm into the air and screamed in triumph as the crowd went wild, celebrating the first Canadian medal in Whistler. It is Canada’s second straight gold medal in skeleton, after Duff Gibson beat the field in Turin.

Earlier in the afternoon, Mellisa Hollingsworth was fifth among a legion of sliders posting excellent times, including the untouchable Amy Williams of Great Britain. Amy Gough was a strong seventh and veteran Michelle Kelly was 13th. Also on the men’s side, 2006 Olympic silver medallist Jeff Pain finished ninth, with the third-fastest final run.

Montgomery, 2008 world silver medallist, suggested he was coming in to drop four fast times and that’s what he did. He was a picture of speed and consistency, finishing second after the first run before being the fastest racer on the track in the final three runs. He set a new track record, 52.20 seconds, in his blazing third heat.

“Honestly I would have been happy with silver, but to earn that gold in front of the folks here, it means so much to me.”

What a night in Whistler for the fast and furious sport of skeleton, where it takes nothing short of four excellent runs to win Olympic gold.