| Event type

10,000 metres, Men

Date27 February 1960
LocationSpeed Skating Oval, Squaw Valley, California
Participants30 from 15 countries
Olympic Record 16:35.9 / Sigvard Ericsson SWE / 31 January 1956
StarterDick McCarterUSA
RefereeSven LåftmanSWE

At the beginning of the season, Knut Johannesen in the 10K was the strongest favorite in any men’s event. He was the 1956 silver medalist, and had won most of the major meets at the distance since 1958, including the 1958 and 1959 World and European Championships. But he had recently struggled a bit, placing only seventh all-around and seventh at the distance at the recent 1960 World Championships, and although he had won the 1960 Europeans, his third consecutive all-around title at the meet, he had placed only third in the 10,000, won by Sweden’s Ivar Nilsson. The recent 5,000 gold medalist, Viktor Kosichkin, was also considered a challenger. The world record in the event was the vaunted 16:32.6, set by Hjalmar Andersen at Hamar, long ago in 1952, although it was tenuous. In 1959 it had been bettered at Chelyabinsk by Nikolajs Sjtelbaums with 16:31.4, and in January 1960 by both Sjtelbaums and Vladimir Shilykovsky at Medeo, but neither record was ratified by the ISU.

Unlike the men’s 1,500 and 5,000, the day of the 10,000 dawned with perfect weather, clear skies and no wind. In the second pair, Sweden’s Kjell Bäckman broke Andersen’s world record easily, finishing in 16:14.2. But it would eventually bring him only a bronze medal. Johannesen was up two pairs later. He set a fast pace, and was 10 seconds ahead of Bäckman at 5,600 metres. It seemed too fast, but it was not, and he would continue at that speed to the end, crossing almost 28 seconds ahead of Bäckman, and a full 46 seconds ahead of Andersen’s world record, in 15:46.6, the first 10K ever under 16 minutes. Kosichkin was in the sixth pair. Remarkably, he went out even faster than Johannesen and was ahead through 6,400 m, and they were tied at 7,600 metres, but the pace then wore on him. He finished in 15:49.2. A tremendous time, 44+ seconds better than the world record, it would bring him only a silver medal.

Johannesen’s 10K in Squaw Valley is considered one of the legendary performances in speed skating history, though the perfect weather, clear ice, and high altitude certainly contributed. Some speed skating experts thought the record would never be broken, but it lasted only until 1963. Johannesen would return in 1964 to complete his medal set in the event, winning a bronze. He was all-around World Champion in 1957 and 1964.

14IKnut JohannesenNOR15:46.6GoldWR
26IViktor KosichkinURS15:49.2Silver
32OKjell BäckmanSWE16:14.2BronzeWR
47IIvar NilssonSWE16:26.0
57OTerry MonaghanGBR16:31.6
69OTorstein SeierstenNOR16:33.4
712IOlle DahlbergSWE16:34.6
85OJuhani JärvinenFIN16:35.4
912OKeijo TapiovaaraFIN16:37.2
1010ORoss ZuccoUSA16:37.6
118OAndré KouprianoffFRA16:39.1
125IJan PesmanNED16:41.0
131IHelmut KuhnertGER16:43.4
143ORenato De RivaITA16:45.7
154OArnold UhrlassUSA16:49.3
169IKees BroekmanNED16:59.9
172IKurt StilleDEN17:00.0
1811IMario GiosITA17:06.3
1911OHermann StrutzAUT17:06.5
2013OVladimir ShilykovskyURS17:13.9
2110IShuji KobayashiJPN17:20.8
2215IJeen van den BergNED17:23.5
2313IRoald AasNOR17:26.8
2414OLeo TynkkynenFIN17:33.6
2515OTakeo MizooJPN17:42.0
261OJang In-WonKOR17:45.7
2714IRalf OlinCAN17:50.9
286OChoi Yeong-BaeKOR18:15.5
298IHeinz WolframGER18:37.0
DQ3INikolajs ŠtelbaumsURS[16:41.9]