Olympic speed skating preview: Men’s 500m


Due to the unpredictability, the men’s 500m will be one of the most intriguing events contested at the Olympic Oval in Gangneung.

Like all other individual events, the 500m will be raced only once in Pyeongchang, marking a change since Sochi. Starting with the Nagano Games through 2014, skaters raced the 500m twice and the results were based on the total time of the two races.

How to watch

Monday, Feb.29 at 6:00 a.m. ET


What to watch for

The Dutch swept this event at the Sochi Games, but the reigning Olympic gold medalist won’t be back to defend his title. Due to the extremely deep Dutch contingent, Michel Mulder finished sixth at Dutch trials, falling short of a spot. 

His twin brother, Ronald, shared the podium with him in Sochi with a bronze medal. Ronald has perhaps been the most consistent in the 500m this season, winning Dutch trials and three World Cup medals.

Kai Verbij has emerged over the past few seasons as one of the most reliable Dutch sprinters, winning the 1000m World Cup race in Calgary and had four other podium finishes in the first four World Cup events.

PyeongChang will be a chance for Jan Smeekens to take the gold he thought was his four years ago. Smeekens crossed the line in Sochi and saw his name flash across the results board in first place, but was moved into second place moments later, likely the result of a faulty leg responder. In PyeongChang, Smeekens has his chance at redemption. Smeekens is the reigning world champion, and though he is not always consistent from race to race, he has a knack for delivering at big events.

Ruslan Murashov, who will compete as an Olympic Athlete from Russia, posted the fastest time in the world this season, a blistering 34.02 at the World Cup in Salt Lake City in December. Murashov won bronze in the event at Worlds last season.

Canada’s Alex Boisvert-Lacroix should be a podium threat as well. Boisvert-Lacroix won two World Cup races earlier this season and a world bronze medal in the event in 2016. The 30-year-old started as a short track skater, but fell ill with mononucleosis before the Vancouver Games and did not make the team. Feeling he needed a change, he switched sports and picked up long track. He did not qualify for Sochi and moved back to Montreal to train after spending two years in Calgary. 

Of the three Americans, Mitch Whitmore has the most promising outlook in this event. Whitmore, who competed in Vancouver and Sochi, finished just off the podium in this event at 2017 Worlds. 

Jonathan Garcia will make his second Olympic appearance, while North Carolina native Kimani Griffin will make his Olympic debut.

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