Ralf Olin

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games • Other
Full nameRalf Emil•Olin
Used nameRalf•Olin
Other namesRalph Olin
Born12 April 1925 in Seattle, Washington (USA)
Died25 May 2007 in Victoria, British Columbia (CAN)
Affiliations?, Calgary (CAN) / ?, Edmonton (CAN)
NOC Canada


Ralf Olin, the only son of Swedish immigrants Emil Gotfred and Freda Janet Olin, was born in Seattle, Washington, United States and moved to Calgary, Alberta at the age of 3, where he grew up. He first learned to skate at the age of 5 and took up speed skating at the age of 11, training at the Crystal rink in Calgary. Olin first started to take speed skating training seriously during World War II, in which he served with the Canadian Navy. Following his discharge in 1945, he co-founded the Calgary Speedskating Club in 1946, which first operated out of the Crystal rink, and then out of the athletic park in the Hillhurst area. After the latter was disbanded in 1949, Olin took to practicing his sport to train for the Olympics on the sloughs of a farm situated in the eastern outskirts of Calgary.

Attending the Olympic trials held in Saskatoon in 1951, Olin finished first in the 1,500, 5,000 and 10,000 metre events and earned a spot on the Canadian speed skating delegation for the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, competing in four events. Olin would go on to represent Canada in speed skating at the next three Olympic games in 1956, 1960 and 1964, serving as the flag bearer for Canada at the Opening Ceremony at the latter. His personal best time of 43.1 in 500 metres was achieved in 1960, and he would accomplish three personal bests in his final Olympic appearance in 1,500 metres (2:13.5), 5,000 metres (8:04.6) and 10000 metres (16:53.3). The winner of multiple national and provincial championship titles, he also held Canadian records in 1500 metres (2:13.5) and 10,000 metres (17:35) and was involved in coaching and management of his sport, developing the Olin Time Award system as a means of training. Olin retired from competitive speed skating in 1966.

Outside of sports, Olin was a member of the Calgary Police Service from 1946 to 1956, serving many years as a motorcycle policeman. He briefly pursued business ventures in Hinton, Alberta in the late 1950s before returning to law enforcement as probation officer with the Alberta Attorney General’s office, first in Edmonton and then later back in his hometown of Calgary. After his retirement from sports, he moved to Vancouver Island where he enjoyed breeding Airedale dogs and proudly displayed his Olympic memorabilia in his living room, including the flag which he carried at the 1964 Olympics. He was inducted into the Canadian Speed Skating Hall of Fame in 1980. Olin and his wife Ruth had two sons; the eldest, Craig, was tragically killed in a drowning accident at the age of 21 in 1977. Ralf Olin continued to reside in British Columbia until his death in 2007.

Personal Bests: 500 – 43.1 (1960); 1500 – 2:13.5 (1964); 5000 – 8:04.6 (1964); 10000 – 16:53.3 (1964).


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1952 Winter Olympics Speed Skating (Skating) CAN Ralf Olin
500 metres, Men (Olympic) 30
1,500 metres, Men (Olympic) 29
5,000 metres, Men (Olympic) 25
10,000 metres, Men (Olympic) 21
1956 Winter Olympics Speed Skating (Skating) CAN Ralf Olin
500 metres, Men (Olympic) 36
1,500 metres, Men (Olympic) 41
5,000 metres, Men (Olympic) 33
10,000 metres, Men (Olympic) 31
1960 Winter Olympics Speed Skating (Skating) CAN Ralf Olin
500 metres, Men (Olympic) =30
1,500 metres, Men (Olympic) 36
5,000 metres, Men (Olympic) 28
10,000 metres, Men (Olympic) 27
1964 Winter Olympics Speed Skating (Skating) CAN Ralf Olin
500 metres, Men (Olympic) 39
1,500 metres, Men (Olympic) 37
5,000 metres, Men (Olympic) 25
10,000 metres, Men (Olympic) 15

Other participations

Games Role NOC As
1964 Winter Olympics Flagbearer at the Opening Ceremony CAN Ralf Olin