Peter Kirby won gold as a member of Canada’s first ever Olympic bobsleigh team at Innsbruck 1964. He competed in the four-man event alongside Vic Emery, John Emery and Doug Anakin, in a sport that was almost unknown in Canada at the time, didn’t have a training program, a home ice track or any funding. They even paid their own way to the Games. All four men were highly educated (Kirby was a geologist) and were nicknamed by their competition as the “intellectual sled”. They had practically no bobsleigh experience but aboard Canada 1 and with only four practice runs under their belt in Innsbruck, Kirby and his teammates set a course record after their first run of four. They held on to that lead for the entire Olympic competition in what was the greatest upset in bobsleigh history. As underdogs, the Canadian team had upset the dominant and highly experienced Europeans and beat the host Austrians for gold by a full second. It was probably the most unlikely Canadian Olympic gold medal in history at the time. So strong 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. Kirby was also part of Vic Emery’s two-man bobsled team that finished fourth in Innsbruck.
The year following his Olympic title, Kirby, along with pilot Emery won the four-man event at the 1965 World Championships in St. Moritz, beating out the Europeans again in back-to-back global competitions.
Kirby was an experienced skier before he started bobsledding. In 1953 he won the Canadian Junior Alpine Skiing Championships and by 1954 he was a member of the Canadian ski team. While studying geology and business at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, Kirby was captain of the varsity alpine team in 1956, an NCAA All-American, and he reached the final of the NCAA Skiing Team Championships.
Kirby was inducted into the Canada Sports Hall of Fame in 1964 and Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame in 1971. After a career as a geologist and businessman, he retired and settled in Mont Tremblant, Québec.
|1964 Innsbruck||Bobsleigh||Four-Man - Men||Gold|
|1964 Innsbruck||Bobsleigh||Two-Man - Men||4|