Inducted April 18, 2009
Few athletes accomplish the success of competing in both the Summer and the Winter Olympic Games, but Arnold Uhrlass is an exception. As a long track speedskater, Uhrlass competed at the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, CA, setting a national record in the 10,000m. Four years later, he competed in cycling at the Summer Games in Tokyo. Uhrlass also qualified for the 1964 Olympic speedskating team, but declined the invitation so he could stay home with his wife who was expecting their child.
Born in Yonkers, NY on October 19, 1931, Uhrlass grew up in a family of skaters and immediately took to the ice. Skating with the Grand Street Boys Speedskating Club in New York City, he quickly made headlines winning championship events. Uhrlass was invited to skate against the country’s best speedskaters at the Race of Champions in Madison Square Garden and he won the event five times. “I won it more than anybody else and we raced against some good skaters,” Uhrlass said. “It was a big deal. The mayor was there. I got congratulated by the mayor of New York City.” Training was done on a more individual basis at the time, and Uhrlass worked all day as a carpenter before coming home to train for events. He and his wife Evelyn raised three children while Uhrlass followed his Olympic dream. He turned down attending many world events knowing his training wasn’t quite up to par with the international skaters. “We just couldn’t compete against the Europeans,” he said. “I did my training at home but nowadays it’s a different story. You can’t work today and be a good athlete.”