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Speed Skating at the 1952 Oslo Winter Games:

Men's 500 metres

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Events:
Phases:

Host City: Oslo, Norway
Venue(s): Bislett Stadium, Oslo
Date Started: February 16, 1952
Date Finished: February 16, 1952

Gold: USA Ken Henry
Silver: USA Don McDermott
Bronze: CAN Gordon Audley
NOR Arne Johansen

Summary

The 500 m World Record (41,8) had been in the hands of Hans Engnestangen since 1938, but in early January 1952, it was first beaten by Yury Sergeyev. The Soviet skater improved it to 41,2 two weeks later at the National Championships, with Yevgeny Grishin also going below Engnestangen's old mark. But with the Soviet Union absent from Oslo, the title fight would again be between Norway and the United States. A week before the Olympics, an international competition at Hamar saw Norway's Sigmund Søfteland winning the 500 m, narrowly ahead of defending champion Finn Helgesen and Ken Henry, winner of the US Olympic Trials.

The first Norwegian-American fight took place in the third race between Arne Johansen and Don McDermott. In a close race, the American won by virtue of his fast final metres, beating his opponent 43,9 to 44,0. These times went unbeaten for several pairs, although Hroar Elvenes came close with 44,1. Heat 12 was another close affair, with Gordon Audley (Canada) facing the 1948 Olympic Champion, Helgesen. Both skaters were timed with 44,0, but Audley had a small advantage over the Norwegian, putting him in a tie for second, and Helgesen out of medal contention.

Ken Henry, barely recovered from the flu, clearly distinguished himself from the rest of the field in pair 14. His final time of 43,2 was well ahead of the others, and just a tenth outside Helgesen's Olympic Record. This time stood until the end of the competition, as favourites Søfteland and Fitzgerald (medalist in 1948) disappointed.

As one of Norway's top sprinters, Finn Hodt had been selected for the Norwegian 500 m squad. But his selection caused a big commotion in Norway because of Hodt's past. A member of the Norway's fascist Nasjonal Samling, he had broken the sports embargo by skating during the German occupation. He had also served on the Eastern front for two years. He was imprisoned for several years as a collaborator, and returned to skating in 1951. But a public outcry after his selection prevented him from competing in the Oslo Games, as the Norwegian Olympic Committee blocked his participation. Hodt would make the team in 1956, and would later become a very successful skating coach.

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal T
1 Ken Henry 23 United States USA Gold 43.2
2 Don McDermott 22 United States USA Silver 43.9
3T Gordon Audley 23 Canada CAN Bronze 44.0
3T Arne Johansen 24 Norway NOR Bronze 44.0
5 Finn Helgesen 32 Norway NOR 44.0
6T Hroar Elvenes 19 Norway NOR 44.1
6T Kiyotaka Takabayashi 23 Japan JPN 44.1
8T Gerard Maarse 22 Netherlands NED 44.2
8T Toivo Salonen 18 Finland FIN 44.2
10 Sigmund Søfteland 28 Norway NOR 44.3
11 Johnny Werket 27 United States USA 44.5
12T Masanori Aoki 24 Japan JPN 44.8
12T Mats Bolmstedt 31 Sweden SWE 44.8
12T Frank Stack 46 Canada CAN 44.8
15T Bobby Fitzgerald 28 United States USA 44.9
15T Sukenobu Kudo 24 Japan JPN 44.9
15T Craig MacKay 24 Canada CAN 44.9
18 Tsuneo Sato 26 Japan JPN 45.2
19T Cockie van der Elst 23 Netherlands NED 45.3
19T Wim van der Voort 28 Netherlands NED 45.3
21T Norman Holwell 23 Great Britain GBR 45.4
21T Kalevi Laitinen 32 Finland FIN 45.4
23 Gunnar Ström 21 Sweden SWE 45.6
24 Kauko Salomaa 23 Finland FIN 45.7
25T Stig Lindberg 30 Sweden SWE 45.9
25T Franz Offenberger 20 Austria AUT 45.9
25T Enrico Musolino 23 Italy ITA 45.9
28 Ferenc Lőrincz 19 Hungary HUN 46.1
29 Colin Hickey 20 Australia AUS 46.2
30 Ralf Olin 26 Canada CAN 46.5
31 Bengt Malmsten 29 Sweden SWE 46.6
32 József Merényi 23 Hungary HUN 46.7
33 Theo Meding 20 Germany GER 46.8
34 Bill Jones 28 Great Britain GBR 46.9
35 Robert Laboubée 24 Belgium BEL 47.2
36 Konrad Pecher 21 Austria AUT 47.3
37 Arthur Mannsbarth 21 Austria AUT 47.6
38 Guido Citterio 20 Italy ITA 48.2
39 Jean Massez 26 Belgium BEL 49.2
AC Jan Charisius 25 Netherlands NED DNF/fall
AC Lassi Parkkinen 34 Finland FIN DNF/fall