Jack SHEA

United States of America USA

Speed Skating

  • Olympic Medals
    2 G
  • Games participations
    1
  • First Olympic Games
    Lake Placid 1932
  • Year of Birth
    1910
Olympic Results

Biography

Jack SHEA

American speed skater Jack Shea won two Olympic gold medals in his hometown of Lake Placid in 1932 and played an instrumental part in the Games’ return to the same resort in 1980. The father of cross-country skier Jim Shea, who represented the USA at Innsbruck 1964, he was also the grandfather of Jim Shea Jr, the men’s skeleton champion at Salt Lake City 2002.

Inspired by Jewtraw

Situated in the Adirondacks in upstate New York, the village of Lake Placid has a proud speed skating tradition, one that dates back to 1924, when local boy Charles Jewtraw won gold in the men’s 500m at the inaugural Winter Olympic Games in Chamonix. Inspired by Jewtraw’s feats, John Amos Shea, better known as Jack, took up the sport on the nearby Mirror Lake and he was just 18 when he won the 1929 North American all-distance title on his home lake. By the time the Olympic Winter Games rolled into town in 1932, the young Shea had already established himself as something of a local celebrity.

Historic double gold

The Opening Ceremony of Lake Placid 1932 saw Shea take the Olympic Oath on behalf of all the athletes who would be competing over the following two weeks. The Games were then declared open by the then Governor of New York and soon-to-be President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and later that day the spotlight shifted back to Shea in the 500m speed skating. Like all the speed skating competitions at Lake Placid it was a packstyle event. After progressing through the heats, the hometown hero sped to the title in a time of 43.4 seconds, winning comfortably from Norway’s Bernt Evensen and Canada’s Alexander Hurd. The following day Shea he repeated the feat in the 1,500m, easing through the heats and then beating Canadian duo Hurd and Willy Logan in the final to become the first American athlete to win double gold at the Winter Games.

Birth of an Olympic dynasty 

Shea refused to take part in the next Winter Games in Garmisch (GER) in 1936. “I majored in political science, and I knew what was going on in Germany and I didn't like it,” he was quoted as saying at the time. “I didn't compete again because in those days, 25 or 26 years of age was over the hill, and I had four kids then.”

Olympic Results

More results
Olympic Results
Results Event Sport

Lake Placid 1932

G
500 metres
500 metres Speed Skating
G
1,500 metres
1,500 metres Speed Skating
#DNS
5,000 metres
5,000 metres Speed Skating