Only North Americans made it through to the final in this event – three Canadians and three Americans did qualify. The North Americans shut out Norwegian favourites Bernt Evensen and Hans Engnestangen in the first heat. The second heat began with an incredibly slow lap, as none of the skaters wanted to take the lead. A restart was ordered, but the pace changed little until the final lap. The third race was somewhat more exciting, with Sweden’s Ingvar Lindberg trying to break away from the pack. He was only caught at 150 m from the finish line, but was then overtaken by the entire field.
Alex Hurd took the lead on the first lap of the final, then swerved to the side to let 500 m champion Shea ahead. On the second lap, Ray Murray took over. The American faded on the final lap, being passed by Shea. Herb Taylor followed close-by in second, but tripped over an ice bump and fell. This left a comfortable lead for Shea, who won his second gold of the Games, followed by the three Canadians. After the race, the Norwegian delegation pointed out to the referee the rule that the time in the final of an event should be faster than the average of the heats contested. Shea’s time had been 10 seconds slower than the required average, but the referee chose to ignore this rule.
Jack Shea, who competed in the Lake Placid Olympics while on leave from Dartmouth College, would later become the patriarch of an Olympic family. His son Jim participated in the 1964 Olympics as a Nordic skier, while his grandson, Jim, Jr., competed in skeleton in 2002. Jack would not be there to see his grandson, as he killed in a collision with a drunk driver, shortly before the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. Jim, Jr. first recited the Olympic oath like his grandfather had in 1932, and then won the gold medal, carrying a picture of him in his helmet. Active in the local administration of the town of North Elba, Shea was also involved in the organisation of the 1980 Winter Olympics in his home town of Lake Placid.