He captured Canadian hearts and a gold medal at the Vancouver Winter Olympics.
Skeleton racer Jon Montgomery's first-place finish down Blackcomb Mountain was memorable, as was his victory celebration walking through the streets of Whistler, chugging a pitcher of beer.
On the road, the Olympic champion drives a 2007 Honda Ridgeline truck with a unique feature that's his favourite - a lockable hidden compartment in the bed of the truck. It's perfect for a guy known to be the life of the party.
"It's one of the coolest things about it. You can turn it into a beer chest pretty quickly. Fill it up with ice and it's got a nice little plug in the bottom you can use to drain it all out," he laughs.
"I started to look for it as a result of going camping one weekend and realizing I had absolutely zero room in either of the vehicles we owned.
"We had an Isuzu VehiCross and a Toyota Yaris. We had to take both of them just so we could get all our gear in them and that doesn't seem to make much sense.
"We needed something with more utility so I started looking around for a Ridgeline and found one on the internet," says Montgomery, who started competing in men's skeleton in 2006; he won his first World Cup race in Italy in 2008 and two silver medals at the World Championships in Germany in 2008.
When he bought the Ridgeline last September, he dumped his other two cars. While his pickup isn't as tough or rugged as a Ford F150 or Dodge Ram, it fits his lifestyle. The others are "too big. The Ridgeline provided me with just enough utility and space.
"I was able to get everything into the vehicle I needed without having to lug a big truck around the urban landscape all the time," says Montgomery, who turns 31 next month.
"It's not a real truck. It doesn't have a real truck frame, which actually makes it ride like you're not driving a truck, so in that respect it's quite alright with me."
Still he has made some changes to make it look more macho. "I chanced upon the deal of a lifetime as far as rims are concerned. I put some nice rims and rubber on it for less than two grand! Now that I got the tires and rims, I'm a happy boy!"
Even though he's a sales consultant and car auctioneer in Calgary, when it comes to auto repairs, he leaves it to the pros. "I don't do any shade-tree mechanic type stuff. I'm strictly a ride-and-drive fellow."
Montgomery says the Ridgeline reflects his personality. "It speaks to the fact I drive unusually styled vehicles.
"The things that I'm drawn to in my life are a little off the beaten track and unique," says the 5-foot-9, 165-pound native of Russell, Man., who started in the auto business in high school working as a lot attendant, blowing snow off cars and mopping the floor. He later studied automotive marketing at the Canadian Automotive Institute at Georgian College in Barrie, Ont.
After his first co-op work term at the Auto Auction in Winnipeg, he was hooked on the fast-paced nature of selling cars. So he went to auction school in Iowa and then attended Northwood University in Texas to study automotive marketing and international management before settling in Calgary to work and hone his skills on the slopes.
Admittedly, the Ridgeline doesn't have the speed of a skeleton racer. "It's a bit doggish. It's a big vehicle and it's only got a 3.5-litre so you can't go too, too fast without throwing on twin-turbochargers or a supercharger."
Montgomery is fast on the slopes and on the road. "At the risk of being a target on the highway, I probably drive more quickly than I should sometimes.
"I'm an assertive driver. I don't think that's dangerous, though. I think assertive drivers are probably some of the safest on the road."
He has paid the price for speeding. "I'd be lying if I said I had never been inside a courtroom for a speeding ticket. I always go and defend myself in court and try to get the ticket reduced.
"I've learned how to deal with speeding tickets in an effective manner so I can minimize the damage," says Montgomery, whose schedule is now jam-packed with speaking engagements across the country. In June, he heads to Africa with the Right to Play organization.
Montgomery's first car was his grandmother's 1980 Pontiac Acadian. "I got it for free.
"I've got a special place in my heart for the Acadian. I called him Herc - short for Hercules. It had a license plate on the front of it. It wasn't a provincial license plate - it was a Pontiac one. It said 2FAT4U on it - quite the tongue and cheek play on words. It was fun because it was a rear-wheel drive and out in the country on the back roads the rear-wheel-drive was fun for burning doughnuts at intersections. It was an underpowered little beast."
Then he bought his first car - a 1998 VW Golf. He also has owned a Dodge Neon, a VW Jetta TDI wagon and a VW Passat he owned for only one week.
"I test-drove it once in a snow storm and purchased it. And then I realized it had a shady transmission. … So I sold it a week after for about $1,000 less than I purchased it for. That was a bigger blow to the ego than my wallet because I've been in the business forever and to be burned on a deal on a car - that was tough. That was my one lemon."
He usually keeps his cars for a few years, but the Ridgeline might be the exception. "I think I'll have this Ridgeline for longer than a couple of years. I say that now, but who knows what's coming down the pipe.
"I like the vehicle. It fits the bill with my lifestyle."
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