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74OLYMPIC REVIEWwww. olympic. org/ athletes MY GAMES M y two experiences at an Olympic Games couldn't have been more different. It wasn't just that in one I finished 10th and in the other I won - although that's part of it. For me, it was performance relative to expectation. Going into the Salt Lake City Games in 2002 I was ranked sixth in the World Cup overall. I had just won my first World Cup medal - a bronze - and it was at the St. Moritz track in Switzerland, which was by far the fastest track in the world. So I had great expectations going into that race. In hindsight, every athlete has strengths and weaknesses and that track just didn't jibe with me. Afterward, I overheard the coach of the gold medallist, Jim Shea, say, " When we woke up that morning and saw that it was snowing, I knew we had nailed it." He meant that they had selected and prepared what we call runners ( the metal sliders underneath the sled) that were perfect for those weather conditions. Meanwhile, I had runners I practised on and runners I raced on, which is more of a bobsledder thing. At first I thought I couldn't compete with that because I didn't have the same equipment. But then I realised that if I made a few changes, then I'd have a real chance of being more successful in the future. That experience became a great motivation for me. In the four years between Salt Lake City and Turin, things changed a lot. In two years I was second overall, and then third overall. So my expectations were much higher going into Turin. On the day of the competition in Cesana, I had two runs that were as close to perfect as I'd ever done. You cross the finish line and it's a good 20 or 30 seconds before you know your results. My team- mate, Jeff Pain, was the second last on the second run, and his time flashed up and everyone went " Ooooh," like it was so fast. I had a moment to say to myself: " You just put down your best possible race - if you had to do that again 10 times you couldn't have done it better." I had to be happy with whatever the result was. I ended up beating Jeff by 26/ 100ths total. My feeling about winning gold was just joy. I didn't even dare dream about winning a gold medal - I just wanted a medal. Skeleton is very similar to slalom skiing or short track speed skating in that it's just too easy to make a mistake that takes you out of the top ten. So the person who wins the gold, often, has to be a little bit lucky. I retired right there. I had just received the absolute gift of winning the most important race of my career. I wanted to be able to say that the last time I ever was on a sled was winning a gold medal at the Olympic Games. ¦ RightGibson leaps aboard his skeleton at the top of the track in Cesana MYGAMES DUFFGIBSON TWO- TIME OLYMPIAN DUFF GIBSON WON GOLD IN SKELETON FOR CANADA IN TURIN IN 2006 AND PROMPTLY RETIRED. AT 39, HE WAS THE OLDEST INDIVIDUAL ATHLETE EVER TO HAVE WON GOLD AT AN OLYMPIC WINTER GAMES TORINO 2006 Gold: Men's skeleton INTERVIEW: KATE ZIMMERMAN