Josue Montiel slides into history
December 6, 2011
Before 16-year-old Park City resident Josue Montiel boards a plane to the inaugural Winter Youth Olympic Games in January, he’ll have to take a slight detour.
Montiel will be flying south the first week of January to pick up the vertical tricolored green, white and red flag of Mexico. And in the first-ever Winter Youth Olympic Games, Montiel, a junior at Park City High School and Mexican-American, will be carrying that flag in the Opening Ceremony as the first Mexican ever to represent the country in the winter sport of skeleton.
He qualified after completing two races at the Utah Olympic Park in Park City and two more in Calgary in late November.
Montiel’s coach, Juan Jose Carlos, was notified Montiel slid fast enough in his third run to qualify for the Youth Games and just needed to complete his fourth and final run to stamp his ticket to Innsbruck, Austria.
"I just started crying," Montiel said. "Wow all this work, missing school, training, not being able to see my friends as much, is paying off, because now, I’m able to go."
It’s been a whirlwind year and a half for the Parkite, who was introduced to the sport in the summer of 2010 after his mother saw a flyer for the Mexican Bobsled and Skeleton Federation in a local market. He recalls wearing a plastic skydiving helmet and a torn sliding suit taking introductory runs at an impromptu skeleton track on the concrete below the Utah Olympic Park track.
Recommended Stories For You
"My parents couldn’t believe it," he said. "The other day we were looking at baby pictures, and they were like, ‘When I was holding you, I couldn’t have imagined that this kid would be going to the Olympics.’"
But prior to his qualification in Calgary, Montiel said the pressure was mounting.
"Before I left, everyone was saying, ‘We’re going to Austria, we’re going to Austria,’" he said. "I kept thinking I have to qualify first.
"I just kept wondering, ‘What if I don’t qualify, what if I have to go back to Utah and tell everyone I’m not going to the Olympics?’ I was scared I was going to let everyone down."
Montiel said the president of the Mexican Olympic Committee flew to Park City to meet him in person and then followed him to Calgary, which added to the escalating pressure.
"When he got to Park City he already knew me," he said. "He said, ‘People in Mexico, they know you and really want you to go.’"
Dating back to last March, when he participated in his first official qualifying race in Lake Placid, N.Y., the 16-year-old has had his sights set on this accomplishment.
Fast forward to here and now, and the Park City High School student stars in a sport he previously had no idea existed. Montiel remembers his approximate fastest speed on a skeleton sled with ease: 78 miles per hour at the Utah Olympic Park.
"I’m really crazy for doing this," he said, laughing. "All you have is your helmet and your hands holding onto your sled. If you let go of one hand, you can go flying."
While Montiel still continues to pinch himself, he said his biggest fans are friends and family members. His family hails from Acapulco in the state of Guerrero and said the majority of his family still lives there.
He said anytime he goes out in public with his mother, she makes it a point to dote on her son.
"My mom tells everyone," he said, laughing. "If we go shopping, she’ll tell the whole store.
"With my family coming from nothing and with me, not even knowing what the sport is I’m proud of myself, but probably my family feels more so."
Now, as Josue Montiel prepares to make an extraordinary voyage he never envisioned making, he is taking online classes until he returns in February. The junior said he’s excited to make it back for soccer season at Park City High School, which will get underway sometime in March.
"I’ve had friends ask, ‘Where you going?" he said. "And I say, ‘I’m going to the Olympics.’"
For more information on the Mexican Bobsled and Skeleton Federation or how to donate, contact MBSF Board of Director Blanca Gohary at (435) 313-5232.