John Emery

golden leaf icon for Hall of Fame

Team Canada Medal Count

Gold medal icon 1
Silver medal icon 0
Bronze medal icon 0


John Emery won gold as a member of Canada’s first ever Olympic bobsleigh team at Innsbruck 1964He competed in the four-man event alongside his brother Vic Emery, Peter Kirby and Doug Anakin in a sport that was almost unknown in Canada at the time, didn’t have a training program, or a home ice track. They even paid their own way to the Games. All four men were highly educated (Emery was a plastic surgeon) and were nicknamed by their competition as the “intellectual sled”. So, aboard Canada 1 and with only four practice runs under their belt in Innsbruck, Emery and his teammates set a course record after their first run of four, and held onto that lead for the entire Olympic competition in what was the greatest upset in bobsleigh history. The Canadian men had upset the dominant and highly experienced Europeans, and beat the host Austrians for gold by a full second. As serious underdogs, it was probably the most unlikely Canadian Olympic gold medal in history at the time. So dominant was the Canadian performance, second to fifth places were separated by only seven tenths of a second. It was Canada’s only gold medal at Innsbruck 1964.  With Gordon Currie, Emery finished 11th in the two-man bobsleigh race.

Emery was introduced to bobsleigh by his brother Vic who had seen the sport in Europe. He joined him in the founding of the Laurentian Bobsledding Association in 1957. Emery was an all-around athlete that excelled in track and field, boxing and skiing before taking up bobsledding. 

In 1951, Emery graduated from Trinity College School. He received his medical degree from Queen’s University in 1957, and went on to become a well-known and very successful plastic surgeon in San Francisco, California. He remained active in sport running the Boston Marathon in 1979 and the Ironman Triathlon in 1980, was an Arabian horse breeder and launched his own wine label (Emery Estate wines). His wife Deborah was a former Oakland Raiderette cheerleader, fashion model, actress and contestant in the 1992 Mrs. United States pageant.

Emery was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1964 and the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame in 1971.

Olympic Highlights

Games Sport Event Finish
1964 Innsbruck BobsleighFour-Man - MenGold
1964 Innsbruck BobsleighTwo-Man - Men11