Host City: Innsbruck, Austria
Venue(s): Artficial Bob and Luge Track, Igls
Date Started: February 5, 1964
Date Finished: February 7, 1964
Format: Four runs, total time determined placement.
The early sixties were a time of Italian dominance in bobsleigh racing and only once, when the West German quartet won on home ice in 1962, did the world title in either the two man or four man leave the possession of Italy. It was therefore natural that the two Italian bobs would assume the mantle of favourites at the 1964 Games. Italy I was driven by reigning world champion Sergio Zardini whilst Eugenio Monti in Italy II had added the 1960 and 1961 world titles to his numerous successes in the two man championships. Other contenders for the gold included Austria I, who had placed third in the 1963 World Championships, 1962 champions West Germany and the Great Britain bob piloted by two man champion Tony Nash. The wild cards of the event were Canada I who had not challenged for a medal when the World Championships visited Igls twelve months earlier but had shown a steady improvement over the previous few seasons.
That Canada led after the first run was a surprise but the fact that they shattered the track record and finished nearly half a second clear of the field was a sensation. Expectations were still that the Italians would take over at the top of the leader board but they continued to falter and Canada increased their lead on the succeeding three runs. Austria I overtook Italy II for silver after the third run and held on narrowly to the medal at the conclusion of the event with a margin of just 0.12 seconds. The Canadian victory may not have been possible without the generosity of Eugenio Monti as the Italian had provided the use of his own mechanics to repair a rear axle on the Canadian bob during the competition.
Vic Emery, the pilot of the victorious Canadian bob, was travelling through Europe in the winter of 1956 when he hitched a lift with a truck carrying equipment for the British bobsleigh team en route to the Winter Olympics. Captivated by the events in Cortina he returned to Montreal and became a pioneer of the sport in Canada. His Olympic victory came just five years after he had driven his nation’s first ever entry at world championship level and was achieved despite a perceived lack of enthusiasm from the Canadian sporting authorities and the lack of a bob run in his home country. Emery and the Canadians proved their success was no fluke by adding the 1965 world title to their Olympic victory before retiring at the end of the season.