| Event type

500 metres, Men

Date13 February 1928 — 9:00
LocationOlympia-Eisstadion Badrutts Park, St. Moritz
Participants33 from 14 countries
Olympic Record 44.0 / Charley Jewtraw USA / 26 January 1924
StarterHermann KleebergGER
RefereeHenning OlsenNOR

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.

=18Bernt EvensenNOR43.4GoldOR
=12Clas ThunbergFIN43.4GoldOR
=31John O'Neil FarrellUSA43.6BronzeOR
=312Jaakko FrimanFIN43.6Bronze
=32Roald LarsenNOR43.6Bronze
63Haakon PedersenNOR43.8
713Charlie GormanCAN43.9
81Bertel BackmanFIN44.4
98Oskar OlsenNOR44.7
1014Eddie MurphyUSA44.9
=1116Irving JaffeeUSA45.2
=1116Willy LoganCAN45.2
=1112Toivo OvaskaFIN45.2
149Ross RobinsonCAN45.9
1517Christfried BurmeisterEST46.2
163Alberts RumbaLAT46.3
176Valentine BialasUSA46.5
187Fritz MoserAUT46.7
194Zoltán EötvösHUN46.8
209Fritz JungblutGER47.2
216Otto PolacsekAUT47.5
2210Aleksander MittEST47.7
235Gustaf AnderssonSWE47.9
=2415Erhard MaykeGER49.1
=2410Rudolf RiedlAUT49.1
265Léon QuagliaFRA49.5
2714Siem HeidenNED49.9
=2815Kęstutis BulotaLTU50.1
=287Charles ThaonFRA50.1
304Fred DixGBR53.4
3111Len StewartGBR54.8
3211Cyril HornGBR54.9
3313Wim KosNED56.2