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Speed Skating at the 1928 Sankt Moritz Winter Games

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Sports:

Host City: Sankt Moritz, Switzerland
Date Started: February 13, 1928
Date Finished: February 13, 1928
Events: 4

Participants: 40 (40 men and 0 women) from 14 countries
Youngest Participant: FRA Charles Thaon (17 years, 163 days)
Oldest Participant: FIN Julius Skutnabb (38 years, 245 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): NOR Bernt Evensen (3 medals)
Most Medals (Country): NOR Norway (6 medals)

Overview

Speed skating has never been a major sport in Switzerland, but prior to World War II the country hosted the world's premier speed skating rink in Davos. World records were skated there until the 1990s, when indoor rinks took over. Virtually all competition in Switzerland took place at Davos. However, the 1925 European Championships were held in St. Moritz. They were skated on Lake San Murrezzan, not in the stadium that was used for the 1928 Olympics. The St. Moritz Olympic ice rink has the highest altitude of all speed skating tracks in Olympic history, but due to ice and weather circumstances, the times skated were not as good as might have been expected.

In contrast to the 1924 Games, the Olympics were the last major event of the speed skating season, which meant that skaters and spectators knew who to watch. The all-round competition, which was part of the Olympics in 1924 had been removed from the programme. It is uncertain why this was done, as it was the most popular form of speed skating, and the standard race format for all major championships.

Fourteen countries sent skaters to St. Moritz, more than in Chamonix. Germany was allowed to compete for the first time since World War I, while Austria and Hungary competed in Olympic speed skating for the first time. Baltic countries Estonia and Lithuania also debuted, including Estonian skater Christfried Burmeister, living in Luxembourg. He had been present in 1924 but could not compete. The Dutch team consisted of two skaters with auspicious names, referring to future skaters winning multiple Olympic medals: Siem Heiden and Wim Kos. Finally, the Italians also had two entries but, like in 1924, they did not show up for competition.

A few days after the Olympic Games finished, the Spartakiad was held in Oslo, Norway. This featured skaters affiliated to worker's clubs, which were socialist or communist in nature. This competition featured skaters from the Soviet Union, who did not attend the "bourgeois" Olympics. Top skaters in this event were Yakov Melnikov (URS), who won the long distances and the overall classification, and Hans Engnestangen (NOR), who won the sprint race. The latter had competed in the World Championships at Davos, but preferred the Spartakiad over the Olympics.

Medalists