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jeff blair

Knowing he would be out of the top 10 at Friday's World Cup skeleton race, the Olympic gold medalist marched into the warm-up area at the finish line trailed by a cameraman, and let the door close in the cameraman's face.

Since winning the first World Cup event of the season at the Whistler Sliding Centre, the native of Russell, Man., has finished 11th, 10th and, here at Mount Van Hoevenberg, 14th. This is not what Russell Reimer, managing partner of Agenda Sport Marketing, has in mind when, as Montgomery's agent, he talks about "crafting a keynote beyond just the retelling of the Olympic moment." But know what? There will be more days like this for Montgomery and every other Canadian Olympian who is grinding out the first year of a new quadrennial leading up to the 2014 Sochi Games.

This is the afterword to the Vancouver Games.

Montgomery's lager stroll through the centre of Whistler after his gold medal has given him what amounts to a cross-country bar tab, but the idea that Canadian medalists can dine off their success in perpetuity underestimates the fickleness of the country's corporate and media elites. Montgomery estimates he did 25 to 30 speaking engagements between the Olympics and the beginning of the World Cup season and, yes, there was the spot on Oprah and the Junos and the Best. Trip. Ever. adventure travel show on the Discovery Channel. But Montgomery has one corporate sponsor this World Cup season - Winnipeg-based Brett Young Seeds - compared to two last season.

Montgomery, who finished three places back of Toronto's Mike Douglas on Friday and two ahead of Calgary's John Fairbairn - 1.39 seconds behind winner Sergei Chudinov of Russia - did not expect a windfall. He laughs as he tells a story relayed by fiancée (and fellow skeleton driver) Darla Deschamps about a plumber visiting their Calgary townhouse and calling his wife to explain he was working on Montgomery's house and that it was "normal."

"The question, apparently, was whether we lived in a mansion," Montgomery said on Friday, the disappointment of his finish assuaged by the proximity of a two-week Christmas break.

Montgomery doesn't even let the question get asked about whether his hectic off-season has contributed to the start. "My start times are personal bests or close to it, so it's certainly not conditioning, so the fact I was busy this summer has nothing to do with it," he said. "It's just a matter of sliding better."

Montgomery joined Sports Agenda after trying to manage the first two months post-Olympics on his own. Reimer, a fellow Manitoban from Steinbach, stressed the need for a deliberate process of cultivating partnerships, and it seemed to make sense to Montgomery.

"I mean, if Jon was just Canada's newest celebrity, and he didn't have to get back into the rigours of training and another World Cup season, it would have been easy to max out and say yes to everything," Reimer said.

"But Jon had recommitted to 2014, so he had to be an athlete first. So we need partners willing to prioritize and believe in being alongside Jon for 2014."

Reimer says Montgomery's Discovery Channel piece - a bucket-list kind of thing - "is a good example" of the strategy they would like to employ and hints that something may be in the works.

"But the fact is, you have a limited window to tell the Olympic story," Reimer said. "I mean, if you were in a corporate audience, what would be your time window for hearing that story? A year. It was important to broaden Jon's ability to speak, especially if you want to reach audiences after the fact."

At the root of Montgomery's story - flatlander from small town and part-time auctioneer discovers one of the first true extreme winter sports - is the notion of finding something you are passionate about and then perfecting it. His appearance on Oprah gave him a platform in what Reimer describes as "middle Canada," and now a guy who goes 130 clicks head-first down an icy chute needs to work on massaging the narrative until Canada kicks off the frost and starts gearing up emotionally again for another winter Olympics.

"The reality is you have to cultivate relationships before anybody will have any interest in having a partnership," Montgomery said. "So that's where I am right now."

And instead of looking for doors to open, right now that means finding the key to his on-ice form.