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Speed Skating at the 1952 Oslo Winter Games

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Sports:

Host City: Oslo, Norway
Date Started: February 16, 1952
Date Finished: February 16, 1952
Events: 4

Participants: 67 (67 men and 0 women) from 14 countries
Youngest Participant: FIN Toivo Salonen (18 years, 271 days)
Oldest Participant: CAN Frank Stack (46 years, 46 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): NOR Hjalmar Andersen (3 medals)
Most Medals (Country): NOR Norway (6 medals)

Overview

With the 1952 edition, the Winter Olympics first came to Scandinavia. The competitions proved very popular with the public, which was also the case for the speed skating events. Held at Bislett Stadium, there was room for 29,000 spectators, much more than at previous Olympics.

The first rink at Bislett was opened on 1908, but it was closed for relocation and renovation in 1916. After its reopening in 1922, it was Oslo's secondary skating rink (behind Frogner), although it hosted the 1925 World Championships, as well as various international socialist championships. After the War, it took over from Frogner and hosted the 1947 and 1949 World Championships before being used in the Olympics. Until the early 1980s, it was one of the world's premier skating rinks, but it lost that status when it was decided it would no longer be used for skating in 1988. Since the 1960s, the stadium (now renovated) is in use for the annual Bislett Games, one of the world's foremost track and field meets.

All countries participating in the Oslo speed skating events had competed at earlier Games, Germany and Japan returning after their exclusion in 1948. Germany was only represented by West German athletes, including their sole skater, Theo Meding. Still missing was the Soviet Union, which would make its Olympic début later in the year in Helsinki. The Soviet male skaters improved record after record on the highland rink at Medeo, although these times were approached with suspicion, since the skaters did not compete internationally. Remarkably, the Soviet female skaters did appear at World Championships, which they dominated. Women's skating, however, was still not on the programme in Oslo.

The speed skating part of these Olympics was dominated by home favorite Hjalmar Andersen. He had won all major all-round titles in 1950, 1951 and 1952, and would win three gold medals. Behind him, Dutch skaters won their country's first Olympic speed skating medals.

An important absentee in Oslo was Hungarian-born Kornél Pajor. He had placed third at the European Championships two weeks before the Olympics, and in 1949, he had won the World Championships at Bislett, winning both long distances. But after that title, Pajor did not return to communist Hungary and defected to Sweden. After initially competing as stateless, Pajor represented Sweden in 1952. Because of his change of nationality so briefly before the Olympics, Pajor was not allowed to compete in Oslo.

Medalists