| Event type

500 metres, Women

Date20 February 1960
LocationSpeed Skating Oval, Squaw Valley, California
Participants23 from 10 countries
StarterDick McCarterUSA
RefereeSven LåftmanSWE

This was the first Olympic speed skating medal event ever contested by women. The favorite was Soviet skater Tamara Rylova, who had set the world record of 45.6 at Medeo in 1955, and had won the 500 at the World Championships in both 1958 and 1959. In the opening pair her teammate Nataliya Donchenko posted 46.0, considered to be a fast time. But the time was beaten in the next pair, when East Germany’s Helga Haase finished in 45.9. Haase had competed at the Worlds since 1956, but had never placed better than sixth at any distance, with a best overall finish of sixth in 1958. Rylova was in the seventh pair, but could post only 46.2, which would leave her out of the medals. The bronze medal was secured in the ninth pair, when Jeanne Ashworth, many-time American champion, finished in 46.1. Haase never bettered her time of 45.9 and never again won a distance race at a major international. Her gold medal was the first ever won by any athlete from the GDR (East Germany). Haase had come to Squaw Valley without her coach or husband, who were not given visas by US authorities.

12OHelga HaaseGER45.9GoldOR
21INataliya DonchenkoURS46.0SilverOR
39OJeanne AshworthUSA46.1Bronze
47ITamara RylovaURS46.2
52IHatsue TakamizawaJPN46.6
=611OKlara GusevaURS46.8
=612OElwira SeroczyńskaPOL46.8
88OFumie HamaJPN47.4
96IDoreen RyanCAN47.7
101OKathy MulhollandUSA47.9
113OIris SihvonenFIN48.1
124IHelena PilejczykPOL48.2
133IFrançoise LucasFRA48.3
147OEevi HuttunenFIN48.6
154OChristina ScherlingSWE48.7
166OJeanne OmelenchukUSA49.3
1710IPeggy RobbCAN50.0
185ISigrit BehrenzGER50.2
1911IYoshiko TakanoJPN50.3
209INatascha LiebknechtGER51.4
2110OKim Gyeong-HoeKOR53.2
228IHan Hye-JaKOR53.8
DNF5OElsa EinarssonSWE