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| Event type

500 metres, Men

Date28 January 1956 — 12:00-13:15
StatusOlympic
LocationPista di Misurina, Misurina
Participants47 from 17 countries
Olympic Record 43.1 / Finn Helgesen NOR / 31 January 1948
StarterErnst von ArxSUI
StarterGianni CantoniITA
RefereeNino FresiaITA

The favorite was Yevgeny Grishin. Though Soviet skaters had not competed internationally prior to 1953, Grishin had competed at the Worlds and Europeans in 1954 and 1955, and won all the 500 m distances except for the 1955 Worlds. Only six days before this event was held, Grishin skated in a pre-Olympic meet on the Misurina rink and shattered the world record with 40.2, bettering the previous record by 6/10ths of a second. That mark of 40.8 had been set by Yury Sergeyev, who had recorded it in January 1955 at Medeo, and Sergeyev was in Cortina to compete. The event started at noon and Grishin was in the first pair. When he finished in 40.2, equaling his world record, the gold medal was decided as nobody would get close to him. Sergeyev was in the second pair and finished in 41.1, which would eventually land him in fourth place. The other medals would eventually be won by Soviet skater Rafael Grach in second place, but 6/10ths behind Grishin, and Norwegian Alv Gjestvang, who won bronze. Gjestvang won his medal despite a near fall during the race. Both were quite unknown prior to 1956 outside their own nations, never having competed internationally before. But both would prove to be good sprinters, Grach returning to win a bronze in the 500 at the 1960 Olympics and Gjestvang winning a silver in the event in 1964. Gjestvang would also finish third in the event at the 1956 and 1959 World Championships.

Yevgeny Grishin would win another gold in Cortina two days later in the 1,500 metres. At Squaw Valley in 1960 he would return and repeat his gold medal victories in both events, though strangely, both 1,500 m gold medals were shared. During his career he set seven world records, all at distances 1,500 metres or shorter. His world records of 40.2 set in Misurina would last until 27 January 1963, when he broke them at Medeo, and in the process became the first skater to race 500 metres in under 40 seconds, finishing in 39.6. The next day, he bettered that with 39.5, his final world record.

PosPairSkaterNOCTime
11OYevgeny GrishinURS40.2=WRGold
215ORafael GrachURS40.8Silver
36IAlv GjestvangNOR41.0Bronze
42OYury SergeyevURS41.1
55IToivo SalonenFIN41.7
68OBill CarowUSA41.8
=79IColin HickeyAUS41.9
=77IBengt MalmstenSWE41.9
=916OMatti HambergFIN42.2
=920IJuhani JärvinenFIN42.2
=112IShinkichi TakemuraJPN42.4
=1122IJohnny WerketUSA42.4
=1318OFinn HodtNOR42.5
=137OYrjö UimonenFIN42.5
1514IBertil EngSWE42.6
1610ISigmund SøftelandNOR42.7
=1719OHroar ElvenesNOR42.8
=1715IKen HenryUSA42.8
=1718IYoshitaki HoriJPN42.8
=1710OBohumil JaurisTCH42.8
211IJohnny CronsheyGBR42.9
=2223ITaketsugu AsazakaJPN43.1
=2213IGuido CitterioITA43.1
=223OGerard MaarseNED43.1
=2513OGordon AudleyCAN43.2
=2516IRaymond GillozFRA43.2
=254IDon McDermottUSA43.2
=284OJang YeongKOR43.5
=2821OVladimír KolářTCH43.5
=3012IJaroslav DoubekTCH43.6
=309OKiyotaka TakabayashiJPN43.6
323IFranz OffenbergerAUT43.8
336OGuido CaroliITA43.9
=3417OJo Yun-SikKOR44.0
=3411OHelmut KuhnertGER44.0
3623ORalf OlinCAN44.1
=3714OErnst BielAUT44.2
=3722OKees BroekmanNED44.2
=3719ISigvard EricssonSWE44.2
405OErich KullSUI44.3
4124OKurt EmingerAUT44.4
428IGunnar StrömSWE44.7
4312OWim de GraaffNED44.9
4421IAlex ConnellGBR45.2
4517IJohn HearnGBR45.9
AC20OYury MikhaylovURSDNF
AC11IJohnny SandsCANDNF