Canadian Olympic Medal Count
Vic Emery won Olympic gold as a member of Canada’s first ever bobsleigh team at Innsbruck 1964. He piloted the four-man crew consisting of his brother John Emery, Peter Kirby and Doug Anakin. Bobsleigh was almost unknown in Canada at the time, didn’t have a training program, or a home ice track, and the team had to pay their own way to the Games. All four men were highly educated (Emery had an MBA from Harvard University) and were nicknamed by their competition as the “intellectual sled”. With only four practice runs under their belt in Innsbruck, Emery and his teammates in Canada 1 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. It was Canada’s only gold medal at Innsbruck 1964.
At Innsbruck 1964, Emery had beat the dominant and highly experienced Europeans, upset the host Austrians for gold by a full second, and beat his long-time mentor, world champion and 1956 Olympic silver medalist, Italian Eugenio Monti, who finished third. 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. Emery was just off the podium finishing fourth in the two-man bobsleigh with brakeman Peter Kirby.
The year following his Olympic title, pilot Emery won the four-man event at the 1965 World Championships in St. Moritz. This world title was significant because as Vic Emery said, “You’re not real champions unless you can do it a second time.”
Emery was introduced to bobsleigh when on tour of Europe in his mid-20s his failed attempt to ski across the mountains to watch the Olympic Winter Games at 1956 Cortina d’Ampezzo, found him riding along in a truck with the British Bobsleigh team. The founding member of the Laurentian Bobsledding Association in 1957, Emery was a Navy Reserve pilot. He became hooked on the sport and within a few years represented Canada at 1959 World. From that moment on, Emery was mentored by Monti to great success.
An all-around varsity athlete, Emery excelled in swimming, wrestling, and was a member of the first varsity ski team while studying at the University of Western Ontario, graduating in 1955. He went on to obtain an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Emery retired from competing in 1967 but remained involved in the recruitment of the sport in Canada where it is now firmly established. He moved to the United Kingdom where he became a successful business man and raised a family with fashion model Jenifer Wontner whose father Sir Hugh Wontner was Lord Mayor of London in 1973, and grand-father Arthur Wontner was the British actor who portrayed Sherlock Holmes in many successful feature films. Emery’s daughter Samantha Louise became a model and and featured in British magazine articles and front covers.
Emery was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1964 and Canada’s Olympic Hall of Fame in 1971.
|1964 Innsbruck||Bobsleigh||Four-Man - Men||Gold|
|1964 Innsbruck||Bobsleigh||Two-Man - Men||4|