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Speed Skating at the 1928 Sankt Moritz Winter Games:

Men's 500 metres

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Host City: Sankt Moritz, Switzerland
Venue(s): Olympic Ice Stadium Badrutts Park, St. Moritz
Date Started: February 13, 1928
Date Finished: February 13, 1928

Gold: NOR Bernt Evensen
FIN Clas Thunberg
Bronze: USA John O'Neil Farrell
FIN Jaakko Friman
NOR Roald Larsen

Summary

The red hot favorite for the gold in this discipline was Norwegian Roald Larsen. At the World Championships in Davos, which had been held little more than a week before this Olympic contest, he had bettered Oscar Mathisen's 14-year-old World Record of 43,4 by three tenths of a second. This record had not brought him the world title, which was taken by Clas Thunberg, a triple Olympic champion in Chamonix. Finn Thunberg, bronze medallist four years earlier, was also a contender in the shortest event, as were the other Norwegians: Haakon Pedersen, Oskar Olsen and Bernt Evensen.

The North Americans were somewhat of an enigma to the Europeans. They had skated in Norway, but only against second-rate Norwegians or on imperial distances. The first pair of the 500 m, with John O'Neil Farrell (USA) and Oskar Olsen (NOR), immediately showed what they were capable of. Farrell clocked 43.6, a new Olympic Record. The next race saw the two biggest title contenders pitted against each other. Roald Larsen took the early lead over Clas Thunberg, but the World Champion gained on the World Record holder in the back straight, making for an exciting sprint on the final 100 m. Thunberg won in an excellent time of 43.4, while Larsen equalled Farrell's time. Haakon Pedersen went below 44 in the following race, but was already out of medal contention. The next big fight was between the two remaining Norwegians, Evensen and Olsen. The latter skated poorly, but 1927 World Champion Evensen went all out and stopped the watches at 43.4 - identical to Thunberg's mark.

Finland's Jaakko Friman, an outsider who had won the Finnish selection race for the Olympics, then also skated 43.6, making for two first place skaters, and three in third position. The last potential medallist was Charlie Gorman of Canada. He skated against Kos (NED), who fell in the first curve. Gorman, who finished 7th in the 43.9 claimed he was obstructed by his opponent's fall. His protest was disallowed by the jury, which angered Gorman so much he withdrew from the 5000 m held later that same day. The Dutchman did re-skate, albeit out of competition. Kos's 47.5 would have ranked him an ex aequo 21st. He was also unlucky in his other Olympic races, falling in both the 1500 m and 5000 m.

After the final pair, some of those in attendance expected tie-breaks for the title and third place, which was fairly common in those days. However, the rules did not allow for such a race and the result stood. It was the first time a gold medal was shared at the Winter Olympics. Evensen's co-championship was the first speed skating gold for Norway.

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal T
1T Bernt Evensen 22 Norway NOR Gold 43.4 OR
1T Clas Thunberg 34 Finland FIN Gold 43.4 OR
3T John O'Neil Farrell 21 United States USA Bronze 43.6 OR
3T Jaakko Friman 24 Finland FIN Bronze 43.6
3T Roald Larsen 30 Norway NOR Bronze 43.6
6 Haakon Pedersen 21 Norway NOR 43.8
7 Charlie Gorman 30 Canada CAN 43.9
8 Bertel Backman 22 Finland FIN 44.4
9 Oskar Olsen 30 Norway NOR 44.7
10 Eddie Murphy 23 United States USA 44.9
11T Irving Jaffee 21 United States USA 45.2
11T Willy Logan 20 Canada CAN 45.2
11T Toivo Ovaska 28 Finland FIN 45.2
14 Ross Robinson 21 Canada CAN 45.9
15 Christfried Burmeister 29 Estonia EST 46.2
16 Alberts Rumba 35 Latvia LAT 46.3
17 Valentine Bialas 25 United States USA 46.5
18 Fritz Moser 27 Austria AUT 46.7
19 Zoltán Eötvös 36 Hungary HUN 46.8
20 Fritz Jungblut 20 Germany GER 47.2
21 Otto Polacsek 23 Austria AUT 47.5
22 Aleksander Mitt 25 Estonia EST 47.7
23 Gustaf Andersson 24 Sweden SWE 47.9
24T Erhard Mayke 32 Germany GER 49.1
24T Rudolf Riedl 20 Austria AUT 49.1
26 Léon Quaglia France FRA 49.5
27 Siem Heiden 22 Netherlands NED 49.9
28T Kęstutis Bulota 31 Lithuania LTU 50.1
28T Charles Thaon 17 France FRA 50.1
30 Fred Dix Great Britain GBR 53.4
31 Leonard Stewart Great Britain GBR 54.8
32 Cyril Horn 23 Great Britain GBR 54.9
33 Wim Kos 24 Netherlands NED 56.2