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Speed Skating at the 1968 Grenoble Winter Games:

Men's 500 metres

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Host City: Grenoble, France
Venue(s): Speed Skating Rink, Grenoble
Date Started: February 14, 1968
Date Finished: February 14, 1968

Gold: FRG Erhard Keller
Silver: USA Terry McDermott
NOR Magne Thomassen

Summary

The defending champion was the United States’ Terry McDermott, who had not competed outside the United States since the 1964 Winter Olympics. Although speed skating had always been contested by all-around skaters, by the late 1960s it was becoming more common for skaters to specialize either as sprinters or distance skaters. One such skater was German Erhard Keller who had competed at the 1966 and 1967 World Championships, but came to the fore as a sprinter in early 1968, winning the 500 at the World Winter University Games in January, and later in the month, breaking the world record at Inzell with a time of 39.2. Keller was the favorite with McDermott an unknown factor. The early leader came out of the third pair, Norway’s Magne Thomassen, who had won the 500 at the 1964 European Championships and finished in 40.5. Five more pairs went thru, and Keller then presented himself in the ninth pair, posting a 40.3 to take the lead. The lead seemed safe, mostly because it was a warm day and the ice was melting, making conditions very difficult for the later skaters. It most affected Terry McDermott, who went off in the 24th, and final, pair. Inexplicably, though no other skater in the last five pairs bettered 41.6, McDermott finished in 40.5 to tie Thomassen for the silver medal. Keller was gracious in victory, stating, “What [McDermott] did today was just sheer guts. If he had started in the earlier heats while the ice was still good, I’d have lost. It’s as simple as that.” But Keller was no fluke, as he would continue to win sprints over the next five years. He won the 1971 World Sprint championships, and won 500 distance titles at the 1969 and 1970 European Championships, the 1970 World Winter University Games, and in 1972, he would return to the Olympics and defend his gold medal.

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal T
1 Erhard Keller 23 West Germany FRG Gold 40.3
2T Terry McDermott 27 United States USA Silver 40.5
2T Magne Thomassen 26 Norway NOR Silver 40.5
4 Yevgeny Grishin 36 Soviet Union URS 40.6
5T Neil Blatchford 22 United States USA 40.7
5T Arne Herjuaune 22 Norway NOR 40.7
5T John Wurster 20 United States USA 40.7
8T Seppo Hänninen 24 Finland FIN 40.8
8T Håkan Holmgren 26 Sweden SWE 40.8
8T Keiichi Suzuki 25 Japan JPN 40.8
11T Herbert Höfl 26 West Germany FRG 41.0
11T Anatoly Lepyoshkin 29 Soviet Union URS 41.0
13T Roar Grønvold 21 Norway NOR 41.1
13T Ard Schenk 23 Netherlands NED 41.1
15T Hasse Börjes 20 Sweden SWE 41.2
15T Heike Hedlund 25 Sweden SWE 41.2
15T Masaki Suzuki 23 Japan JPN 41.2
18 Valery Muratov 21 Soviet Union URS 41.4
19T John Tipper 23 Great Britain GBR 41.5
19T Gerd Zimmermann 25 West Germany FRG 41.5
21T Tom Gray 23 United States USA 41.6
21T Valery Kaplan 24 Soviet Union URS 41.6
23 Kimmo Koskinen 19 Finland FIN 41.7
24 Manne Lavås 23 Sweden SWE 41.8
25 Bob Boucher 24 Canada CAN 42.0
26T Otmar Braunecker 24 Austria AUT 42.1
26T Elio Locatelli 24 Italy ITA 42.1
26T Geoff Stockdale 23 Great Britain GBR 42.1
29 Johan Lind 26 Norway NOR 42.3
30 Peter Nottet 23 Netherlands NED 42.4
31T Mihály Martos 23 Hungary HUN 42.5
31T Günter Traub 28 West Germany FRG 42.5
33T Tamio Dejima 20 Japan JPN 42.6
33T Jouko Launonen 28 Finland FIN 42.6
33T Kees Verkerk 25 Netherlands NED 42.6
33T Pete Williamson 21 Canada CAN 42.6
37 Takayuki Hida 23 Japan JPN 42.9
38T Luvsanlkhagvyn Dashnyam 27 Mongolia MGL 43.0
38T György Martos 24 Hungary HUN 43.0
40 Olavi Hjellman 22 Finland FIN 43.1
41T Colin Coates 21 Australia AUS 43.3
41T Bob Hodges 24 Canada CAN 43.3
43 Ruedi Uster 26 Switzerland SUI 43.6
44 Hansruedi Widmer 23 Switzerland SUI 43.7
45 Michel Thépénier 23 France FRA 43.8
46 François Perrenoud 18 France FRA 44.1
AC David Bodington 20 Great Britain GBR DNF
AC Jan Bols 23 Netherlands NED DNF