Host City: Salt Lake City, United States
Venue(s): Utah Olympic Oval, Kearns, Utah
Date Started: February 11, 2002
Date Finished: February 12, 2002
Format: Two runs, total time determined placement.
Looking at the starting list, there were two major favorites for this event: Jeremy Wotherspoon and Hiroyasu Shimizu. Of the two, Wotherspoon had had the best season prior to the Games. He had won four World Cup races, and a few weeks before the Olympics, had won the World Sprint Championships, taking the first of two 500 m races in the process. Shimizu, had a better historical record, though. Apart from being the defending Olympic champion, he had won the 500 m World title in 1996 and 1998 to 2001, and was world record holder. Several other skaters could claim realistic hopes for the title as well, notably Casey FitzRandolph, Mike Ireland and Gerard van Velde.
The biggest surprise early in the first run was the performance of Kip Carpenter, a former short-track speed skater, who recorded his first 34-second 500 m at 34.68. That time would eventually hold up as the third fastest of the day. The first skater to beat it was Shimizu (34.61), who seemed disappointed not to approach his own world record. In the next pair, it was FitzRandolph who completed the first 100 m in 9.44, and sped to a new personal best, 34.44. In the remaining pairs, none matched that time. The biggest story, however, was not FitzRandolph, but Wotherspoon. Skating in the last pair, his Olympic dreams were over after a few meters as he tripped and fell. On the second day, Wotherspoon showed off his great form by winning the second run, but that did not help him.
Although differences were not too large, the results of day one would still stand at the conclusion of the competition. The final race was run between FitzRandolph and Carpenter. The leader opened considerably slower than in the first run, and it seemed he might lose his 0.19 advantage on Shimizu. While beaten by his compatriot, FitzRandolph's 34.81 was just enough to keep the Japanese skater at bay by 0.03 seconds. Carpenter, in turn, also lost a bit on the closest contender for bronze - Van Velde - but kept a 0.02-second edge on the Dutchman. Despite having been a known 500 m skater for several years, the Olympic 500 m was FitzRandolphs first international victory in the event. His father Jeff was also acting at the Olympics, appearing as the starter in several events, although not those in which his son competed.
|1||Casey FitzRandolph||27||United States||USA||Gold||69.23||OR|
|3||Kip Carpenter||22||United States||USA||Bronze||69.47|
|4||Gerard van Velde||30||Netherlands||NED||69.49||OR|
|5||Lee Gyu-Hyeok||23||South Korea||KOR||69.59||OR|
|6||Joey Cheek||22||United States||USA||69.60|
|17||Choi Jae-Bong||21||South Korea||KOR||70.57||OR|
|25||Park Jae-Man||21||South Korea||KOR||71.96|
|28||Marc Pelchat||34||United States||USA||72.58|
|33||Kim Cheol-Su||21||South Korea||KOR||108.46|