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1952 Speedskating Silver Medalist Don McDermott Passes Away At 90

By Todd Kortemeier | Nov. 02, 2020, 2:20 p.m. (ET)

Don McDermott (left) and Ken Henry (right) stand on the podium after the men's 500-meter speedskating at the Olympic Winter Games Oslo 1952.


Don McDermott, a silver medalist in 500-meter speedskating at the Olympic Winter Games Oslo 1952, has died at the age of 90.

“Those of us who had the immense fortune to call you ours, and the many that were blessed to have crossed paths with you take solace in knowing you are reunited with countless loved ones,” the McDermott family said in a statement. “Our heavy hearts are leavened knowing you are now skating endlessly on a borderless lake of flawless black ice fueled by an unlimited supply of chocolate chip cookies. Skate free, we will see you again.”

McDermott was a native of New Jersey and attended both high school and college in the Garden State. His early skating resume was peppered with wins such as the prestigious 1949 Silver Skates at Madison Square Garden. In Oslo, fellow American Ken Henry raced out to the win in a near-record time of 43.2 seconds. McDermott’s 43.9 was enough to edge out Arne Johansen in his pairing, pulling away in the final meters to best the Norwegian by one-tenth of a second. The 1-2 American podium was something of an upset, as reigning Olympic champion Finn Helgesen of Norway failed to even medal.

McDermott also competed in the 1,500-meter in Norway and returned to compete in both the 500-meter and 1,500-meter at the 1956 Games. McDermott was then given the honor of carrying the U.S. flag at the Opening Ceremony in 1960. He was inducted into the National Speedskating Hall of Fame in 1976.

Besides his skating career, McDermott also served in the Korean War and worked for the U.S. Postal Service, retiring as postmaster in Edgewater, New Jersey, in 1989. McDermott is survived by his wife of 59 years, Anneliese. He also had four children and eight grandchildren.

Todd Kortemeier

Todd Kortemeier is a sportswriter, editor and children’s book author from Minneapolis. He is a contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.