When Canadian speed skater Charlie Gorman made his Olympic debut at Chamonix 1924, he was the first winter Olympian from the province of New Brunswick. Entered in four events in 1924, Gorman only finished two of them – seventh in the 500m and 11th in the 1500m (he did not finish the 5000m or the all-around). In the 500m at St. Moritz 1928, a competitor fell and interfered with Gorman’s race yet his appeals were denied. He raced the 1500m the following day but left the Games refusing to compete in the 5000m.
Gorman was just 15 years of age when he won his first speed skating race at the 1912 Canadian Maritime Championships. He dominated the North American speed skating scene earning the nicknames “the Man with the Million Dollar Legs” and “Human Dynamo”. When serving as a machine gunner in World War I, Gorman got hit with shrapnel to his leg and the doctors thought he would never compete again. Despite this painful and physical handicap, Gorman excelled at baseball and speed skating and when he returned to Canada after the war, he turned down an offer from baseball’s New York Yankees in order to focus on speed skating. In 1923, he tied for second at the 1923 US National Championships, won it in 1924, and then captured the 1924 World Championships, all within the span of two weeks. He repeated the world title in 1926 beating five-time Olympic champion Finland’s Clas Thunberg. Gorman retired from competing after St. Moritz 1928 the holder of seven world records, the winner of 153 medals and trophies, and American, Canadian, World Championships titles in indoor and outdoor speed skating bringing much pride to his city, province and country.
Life after speed skating saw Gorman own and operate gas stations in his hometown of Saint John, New Brunswick prior to his premature death in 1940 from a skin disease at the age of 42. He was buried under a footstone with his name “Charlie” on it. In the 1960s, the city of Saint John named a street and the Charlie Gorman Arena in his honour, but it wasn’t until 2010 when a fundraising campaign could provide a proper memorial and gravestone.
Gorman was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 1955, Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1950 and the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame in 1970.
|1924 Chamonix||Speed Skating - Long Track||1,500m - Men||11|
|1924 Chamonix||Speed Skating - Long Track||5,000m - Men||DNS|
|1924 Chamonix||Speed Skating - Long Track||500m - Men||7|
|1928 St. Moritz||Speed Skating - Long Track||1,500m - Men||DNS|
|1928 St. Moritz||Speed Skating - Long Track||500m - Men||7|
|1928 St. Moritz||Speed Skating - Long Track||5,000 - Men||DNS|