Host City: Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
Date Started: February 11, 1936
Date Finished: February 11, 1936
Participants: 52 (52 men and 0 women) from 16 countries
Youngest Participant: James Graeffe (14 years, 219 days)
Oldest Participant: Charles de Ligne (40 years, 155 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): Ivar Ballangrud (4 medals)
Most Medals (Country): Norway (6 medals)
The speed skating events of the 1936 Winter Olympics were set on the Rießersee, a small lake to the southwest of Garmisch. The lake also hosted a few hockey matches (two rinks were situated on the inside of the skating rink), and the demonstration sport of eisstockschießen, a sport with similarities to curling. The newly built Olympic bobsleigh course ran alongside the south side of the Rießersee. The Eissportplatz featured a stand with room for 2000 spectators, including 300 seats. Separate radio booths were present, as well as a moveable camera tower. Garmisch had seen skating competitions since the early 20th century, and had organized the German championships on a number of occasions. The 1935 championships had been held on the Rießersee, with Willy Sandtner as the champion.
The Olympic speed skating program was spread out over four days for the first time, instead of two days in the previous Olympics. Sixteen countries participated in the events, with Australia and Czechoslovakia present for the first time. Norway dominated the races, taking all gold medals and six of the twelve medals. Ivar Ballangrud was the star of the Games with three gold medals, tying Clas Thunberg's 1924 record. The Finn's overall Olympic medal tally is slightly better than that of Ballangrud, however. The North Americans, which had dominated the 1932 Olympics, now had to content themselves with a single medal. Canada's presence was almost compromised by lack of funds, and only one skater of the four selected was sent to Europe, 19-year-old elevator-boy Tom White.
Some of the top speed skaters were missing from the Olympics, competing in speed skating races for workers instead. This included competitors from the Soviet Union, which was absent from the entire Games, but also several Norwegians. Haakon Pedersen could rival the top skaters in the two shortest distances, and Trygve Barø had posted the second best time of the season in the 500 metres. Briefly before the Olympics, the Workers European Championships were held in Oslo, with Pedersen winning ahead of Ivan Anikanov and Yakov Melnikov (both USSR, the latter being 40 years old).