1952 Olympic Winter Games in Oslo
The 1952 Olympic Winter Games were held in Norway, which is considered the birthplace of modern skiing. It was the first Winter Games to include a torch relay. The Olympic flame was ignited at Morgedal in the fireplace of the home of skier Sondre Norheim (1825–97), who is credited with the invention of the modern ski binding. The flame was relayed by 94 cross-country skiers to Oslo, where Eigil Nansen, grandson of the famous polar explorer Fridtjof Nansen, lit the Olympic cauldron.
For the first time the Games were opened by a woman, Princess Ragnhild, because her grandfather, King Haakon VII, and her father, Crown Prince Olav, were away attending the funeral of King George VI in England. It was also the first Games to include a cross-country skiing event for women (a 10 km race) and the first to use computers to calculate scores in figure skating.
Speed Skating Bronze
Norwegian speed skater Hjalmar “Hjallis” Andersen was the star of these Games, winning three gold medals in the 1500m, 5000m and 10,000m. Canadian Gordon Audley took bronze in the 500 m speed skating final, wearing the same skates he had raced in at the 1948 Olympic Winter Games in St. Moritz. “Gordon Audley, who had trained on an ice-coated gravel pit and on the Red River in Winnipeg, was just another speed skater until Saturday,” wrote Jack Sullivan of The Globe and Mail. “Now he’s No. 3 among the Olympic elite and acclaimed for his brilliant performance in the 500-metre race. The bushy-browed, 23-year-old Winnipegger had to settle for a third-place tie Saturday in the race against time. Both Audley and Arne Johansen of Norway were tied in 44 seconds flat. … Said Audley: ‘I’m really amazed and shocked over it all.’”
In hockey, Canada was represented by the Edmonton Mercurys, who had won the world ice hockey championship in 1950. The Mercs won the first three games with a combined score of 39–4 but had a more difficult time against the Czechoslovakian (4–1) and Swedish (3–2) teams. Canada won all seven of its games before facing the United States. A 3–3 tie with the Americans (who had lost to Sweden) was good enough for gold. “Canada Again Tops In Olympic Hockey,” declared The Globe and Mail. “Canada successfully defended its Olympic hockey championship tonight [24 February], … [but it] was a close call for the Canadian hockey team.” Indeed, it was the end of the era of Canadian dominance in amateur hockey. The Canadians would not win hockey Olympic gold again for 50 years.
Canadian figure skaters placed well at the Games, although they did not win any medals. Peter Firstbrook finished fifth in men’s figure skating, as did the pairs team of Frances Dafoe and Norris Bowden. Suzanne Morrow placed sixth in the women’s competition. Joanne Hewson was Canada’s highest-placed skier, finishing eighth in the women’s downhill competition. No other Canadian athlete came close to the podium, but The Globe and Mail noted that the men’s ski jump champion, Norwegian Arnfinn Bergmann, worked as a mining engineer in Revelstoke, British Columbia (although his time in Canada seems to have been brief).
Team Canada Statistics
Team: 39 athletes (31 men, 8 women)
Medals: 2 (1 gold, 1 bronze)
Rank: 8th, tied with Italy (overall medal count)
John (Jack) Davies
|Ice hockey (men)||Gold|
|Gordon Audley||500 m long track speed skating (men)||Bronze|