|Date||21 February 1960|
|Location||Speed Skating Oval, Squaw Valley, California|
|Participants||23 from 10 countries|
The world record of 2:25.5 in this event had lasted since 1953, set by Khalida Shchegoleyeva at Medeo. As in all the women’s events, the Soviet women were favored, having won all the all-around medals at the World Championships since 1953. The event was hampered by high winds, which also slowed the men’s 1,500 and 5,000. The early pace was set in the first pair by Klara Guseva, who finished in 2:28.7. That lasted until the seventh pair, when Polish skater Elwira Seroczyńska bettered the time by a full three seconds. Although she had skated at World Championships in 1957, 1959, and 1960, she was not highly considered, never having placed better than ninth at any distance in those events, and no better than 10th, at the 1959 Worlds. Two pairs later, Lidiya Skoblikova started alongside Seroczyńska’s teammate, Helena Pilejczyk. They went out at the same pace through 700 metres, but Skoblikova gradually pulled ahead, and would win the race, posting a world record 2:25.2. Pilejczyk held on for 2:27.1, which brought her the bronze medal, behind her teammate.
Skoblikova would return two days later to win a second gold medal in Squaw Valley. In 1964 at Innsbruck she set Olympic history by winning all four women’s speed skating events, giving her six gold medals in all. She was especially dominant in 1963-64, winning the World Championships both years, and winning all four distances at both meets. As for the Polish women, their medals were major upsets. Through 2006, no other Polish speed skater has won a medal at the Winter Olympics, although Seroczyńska would win the 500 distance at the 1962 World Championships. Pilejczyk had been the stronger skater prior to Squaw Valley, placing second at the 1960 Worlds in the 1,000, and fifth all-around at the 1958 and 1960 World Championships. She would have a long career, competing through the 1971 World Championships, but never again ascended a podium at a major international.
|Pos||Pair||Skater||NOC||Time||300 m||700 m||1100 m|