CALGARY - Jon Montgomery didn't disappear.
One of the famous Canadian athletes to come out of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games did what he felt he needed to do to win another gold medal, which was not to race at all this season.
Instead, the man as well known for auctioning off a pitcher of beer in Whistler, B.C., following his Olympic victory spent this winter tinkering and testing sleds while his rivals raced.
"I'm doing equipment development," Montgomery said. "I'm trying to make sure that I'm in the best possible position for success leading up to and including the 2014 Games.
"This year is not a throw-away season, but it doesn't mean anything in terms of our road to 2014. This was the season to sacrifice competition and focus on those aspects."
Montgomery's absence was noticeable at the recent two Canadian stops on the World Cup circuit — Whistler last week and the Calgary stop that concludes with men's four-man bobsled Saturday.
A Canadian man didn't finish in the top five in skeleton at either track. The season ends with the world championship next week in Lake Placid, N.Y.
"For sure, you always want to be playing, you always want to be competing," Montgomery said. "That's an easy pill to swallow knowing I'm making the best use of my time right now in this aspect of equipment development and the programs I've been working on.
"This is definitely the best use of my time for sure."
Montgomery opened the season after his Olympic win with a World Cup victory on the same Whistler track.
But he finished no higher than sixth the rest of the season. Montgomery ended up ninth in the overall World Cup standings and 11th in the 2011 world championships.
It wasn't as if he suddenly couldn't drive. Montgomery decided then he had to aggressively research how to build a better sled. As he put it, "the 2014 season is not the time to be trying new things."
The 32-year-old from Russell, Man., wants the technology to win on any track, not just Whistler. He's doing it with the help of Standen's, a company that specializes in axels and suspensions and built his winning ride for 2010.
"There's certain tracks I wasn't able to compete on, Calgary being one of them. Whistler not one of them," Montgomery said. "My old setup was perfect for Whistler, but I'm trying to create something that I can win week-in and week-out on and when I come to the track, I want to know that I can win.
"If I don't take ownership of that process, then you are always left wondering what could have been done. I don't want to have those types of thoughts standing on the start line, should I be fortunate enough to earn a spot in 2014."
Montgomery's hiatus also allowed him to take a breather from relentless training, which he feels will also help him in the long run.
"I'm not letting myself go and becoming a fat mess or anything," he says. "I am certainly staying healthy and getting ready to hit the ground running this April and do lots of dryland training."
Montgomery married fellow slider Darla Deschamps last summer. She was coming off a breakout rookie season, placing in the top five of four World Cup races and placing eighth at the world championship.
But her competitive season ended in December when Deschamps suffered a concussion while training in Norway.
Montgomery says his wife is recovering, but rushing her back to competition would be the wrong decision. So a couple who is often travelling around the world has spent a lot of time at home recently.
"Newly-married couple hanging out together quite a bit, I think we're getting an insight into what retirement might be like," Montgomery joked. "We're surviving and thriving, so this is a great prospect."