Host City: Nagano, Japan
Venue(s): M-Wave, Nagano
Date Started: February 13, 1998
Date Finished: February 14, 1998
Format: Two runs, total time determined placement.
|Gold:||Catriona Le May Doan|
Only one woman was expected to win the 500 m in Nagano: Catriona Le May Doan. At the start of the season, she had lowered defending champion Bonnie Blair’s world record to 37.90, becoming the first woman to beat 38 seconds in the 500 m. She lowered it a few times more to 37.55 in December 1997. Weeks before the Olympics, Le May Doan won the distance twice at the World Sprint Championships, also grabbing the overall title. She had also won five of the six World Cup races that season, the only other victory being claimed by fellow Canadian Susan Auch. Some of the top racers from the previous season had trouble adapting to the new clap skate, such as 1997 World Champion Xue Ruihong, who would fare no better than 14th at the Olympics.
Two heats were being run at the Olympics for the first time, but this did not affect the results, with both runs having the exact same top three. Catriona Le May Doan won the first run as expected, but her lead over Auch was just 0.03 seconds, and the time was somewhat slower than expected (38.39). Third behind the two Canadians was home skater Tomomi Okazaki, beloved with the crowd for her smile. The gap to the fourth skater, Kyoko Shimazaki, was substantial, and the medals appeared decided already.
The next day, nothing changed. 1997 world bronze medalist Franziska Schenk moved up to 4th place, while Okazaki replicated her first day race to stay in third. In the final pair, Auch and Le May faced each other. As always, Auch had the better start of the two, but Le May the better full lap, now beating Auch by 3 tenths of a second.
|1||Catriona Le May Doan||27||Canada||CAN||Gold||76.60||OR|
|10||Chris Witty||22||United States||USA||78.53|
|17T||Becky Sundstrom||21||United States||USA||79.86||OR|
|19||Moira D'Andrea||29||United States||USA||79.92|
|20||Edel Therese Høiseth||32||Norway||NOR||80.01|
|24T||Choi Seung-Yong||18||South Korea||KOR||80.79|
|26||Amy Sannes||21||United States||USA||80.90||OR|
|29||Cheon Hui-Ju||22||South Korea||KOR||81.62||OR|
|30||Gang Mi-Yeong||19||South Korea||KOR||82.25|
|33T||Kim Ju-Hyeon||17||South Korea||KOR||82.79|
|35||Kim Jong-Hui||17||North Korea||PRK||83.74|