Jon Montgomery left off Canada's Olympic skeleton team
2010 gold medallist 'fighting an uphill battle' to qualify
The Canadian Olympic skeleton team was named on Wednesday in Calgary, and while it is an experienced group, defending men's gold medallist Jon Montgomery may not be in Sochi.
Calgary's Sarah Reid and two-time Olympian Mellisa Hollingsworth, of Eckville, Alta., were named to the women's squad while Eric Neilson of Kelowna, B.C., and John Fairbairn of Calgary will represent the men.
Another men's and women's member could be added, depending on whether Canadian results in international competition assure them third sleds.
Montgomery, of Russell, Man., won gold in Vancouver in 2010, but has had a rough season and is a longshot to qualify for the possible spot on the men's side.
The 34-year-old told CBC News that he acknowledges there is only a small chance he could make the team, and may retire if he doesn't qualify.
"Unfortunately for me, I'm fighting an uphill battle in that regard," Montgomery told the Canadian Press. "I would guess the way things have gone it would be nothing short of winning the four races before that deadline."
Also up for that possible third sled spot is Dave Greszczyszyn from Burlington, Ont.
With the deciding factor being which athlete has earned the most points from races, Greszczyszyn, who competes on the World Cup circuit, could have the upper hand on Montgomery, who was relegated to the Intercontinental Cup this season.
"Dave will be earning twice as many points for his results on World Cup than I will be on IC," Montgomery said. "If I win all four races and Dave gets 13th in his races he'll beat me out in points."
Greszczyszyn currently has a 32 point lead over Montgomery with the deadline for selection coming on Jan. 19.
That leaves Hollingsworth as the Canadian skeleton veteran of the group. The two-time World Cup winner will head to her third Olympics after capturing bronze in Turin in 2006 and a disappointing fifth-place finish in Vancouver in 2010.
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Reid joins her on the women's side after stringing together a couple of strong seasons. A first-time Olympian, she has a bronze medal to her credit in World Cup action this season and a bronze in last year's World Championships.
Cassie Hawrysh, of Brandon, Man., will try and snag the possible third spot for Sochi. She will do so after recently being swapped out of World Cup competition, after 10th and 11th place finishes, in favour of Hollingsworth.
Neilson and Fairbairn will also make their Olympic debut in Sochi, and it may be up to them to continue the gold medal streak started in 2006 by racer-turned-coach Duff Gibson, and continued by Montgomery.
“It has always been a lifetime goal of mine to compete at the Olympics, and for that dream to now be a reality is very gratifying,” Fairbairn said in a release. “Making the Olympic team was step one. Now the real work begins to ensure we are fully prepared to achieve excellence in Sochi.
"This is a talented group of athletes that share great camaraderie and a common goal to see the Canadian flag being raised once again above the Olympic skeleton podium.”
With files from the Canadian Press