| Event type

500 metres, Men

Date16 February 1952 — 15:00
LocationBislett Stadion, Oslo
Participants41 from 14 countries
Olympic Record 43.1 / Finn Helgesen NOR / 31 January 1948
StarterRolv HellumNOR
RefereeWalter LangSUI

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.

114IKen HenryUSA43.2Gold
23ODon McDermottUSA43.9Silver
=312OGordon AudleyCAN44.0Bronze
=33IArne JohansenNOR44.0Bronze
512IFinn HelgesenNOR44.0
=620OHroar ElvenesNOR44.1
=69IKiyotaka TakabayashiJPN44.1
=815IGerard MaarseNED44.2
=86IToivo SalonenFIN44.2
1015OSigmund SøftelandNOR44.3
118OJohnny WerketUSA44.5
=124IMasanori AokiJPN44.8
=128IMats BolmstedtSWE44.8
=126OFrank StackCAN44.8
=1521IBobby FitzgeraldUSA44.9
=1519OSukenobu KudoJPN44.9
=1514OCraig MacKayCAN44.9
1813ITsuneo SatoJPN45.2
=195ICockie van der ElstNED45.3
=1911OWim van der VoortNED45.3
=211INorman HolwellGBR45.4
=2121OKalevi LaitinenFIN45.4
2316OGunnar StrömSWE45.6
2416IKauko SalomaaFIN45.7
=2518IStig LindbergSWE45.9
=251OFranz OffenbergerAUT45.9
=252OEnrico MusolinoITA45.9
285OFerenc LőrinczHUN46.1
297OColin HickeyAUS46.2
3019IRalf OlinCAN46.5
312IBengt MalmstenSWE46.6
3210IJózsef MerényiHUN46.7
3320ITheo MedingGER46.8
3413OBill JonesGBR46.9
354ORobert LaboubéeBEL47.2
3622OKonrad PecherAUT47.31
379OArthur MannsbarthAUT47.6
387IGuido CitterioITA48.2
3911IJean MassezBEL49.2
DNF18OJan CharisiusNEDfall
DNF10OLassi ParkkinenFINfall
DNS17IPierre HuylebroeckBEL