| Event type

500 metres, Men

Date14 February 1968 — 10:00
LocationL'Anneau de Vitesse, Grenoble
Participants48 from 17 countries
Olympic Record 40.1 / Terry McDermott USA / 4 February 1964
StarterLeif HjallumNOR
RefereeSven LåftmanSWE

The defending champion was the United States’ Terry McDermott, who had not competed outside the United States since the 1964 Winter Olympics. Although speed skating had always been contested by all-around skaters, by the late 1960s it was becoming more common for skaters to specialize either as sprinters or distance skaters. One such skater was German Erhard Keller who had competed at the 1966 and 1967 World Championships, but came to the fore as a sprinter in early 1968, winning the 500 at the World Winter University Games in January, and later in the month, breaking the world record at Inzell with a time of 39.2. Keller was the favorite with McDermott an unknown factor. The early leader came out of the third pair, Norway’s Magne Thomassen, who had won the 500 at the 1964 European Championships and finished in 40.5. Five more pairs went thru, and Keller then presented himself in the ninth pair, posting a 40.3 to take the lead. The lead seemed safe, mostly because it was a warm day and the ice was melting, making conditions very difficult for the later skaters. It most affected Terry McDermott, who went off in the 24th, and final, pair. Inexplicably, though no other skater in the last five pairs bettered 41.6, McDermott finished in 40.5 to tie Thomassen for the silver medal. Keller was gracious in victory, stating, “What [McDermott] did today was just sheer guts. If he had started in the earlier heats while the ice was still good, I’d have lost. It’s as simple as that.” But Keller was no fluke, as he would continue to win sprints over the next five years. He won the 1971 World Sprint championships, and won 500 distance titles at the 1969 and 1970 European Championships, the 1970 World Winter University Games, and in 1972, he would return to the Olympics and defend his gold medal.

19OErhard KellerFRG40.3Gold
=224ITerry McDermottUSA40.5Silver
=23OMagne ThomassenNOR40.5Silver
46IYevgeny GrishinURS40.6
=515ONeil BlatchfordUSA40.7
=58OArne HerjuauneNOR40.7
=58IJohn WursterUSA40.7
=86OSeppo HänninenFIN40.8
=813IHåkan HolmgrenSWE40.8
=813OKeiichi SuzukiJPN40.8
=112IHerbert HöflFRG41.0
=117OAnatoly LepyoshkinURS41.0
=1315IRoar GrønvoldNOR41.1
=133IArd SchenkNED41.1
=151OHasse BörjesSWE41.2
=1511OHeike HedlundSWE41.2
=1516IMasaki SuzukiJPN41.2
1818OValery MuratovURS41.4
=195OJohn TipperGBR41.5
=1919IGerd ZimmermannFRG41.5
=2118ITom GrayUSA41.6
=2120OValery KaplanURS41.6
231IKimmo KoskinenFIN41.7
2419OManne LavåsSWE41.8
259IBob BoucherCAN42.0
=264IOtmar BrauneckerAUT42.1
=2616OElio LocatelliITA42.1
=2612OGeoff StockdaleGBR42.1
2924OJohan LindNOR42.3
3010IPeter NottetNED42.4
=312OMihály MartosHUN42.5
=3120IGünter TraubFRG42.5
=3321ITamio DejimaJPN42.6
=3310OJouko LaunonenFIN42.6
=3311IKees VerkerkNED42.6
=3321OPete WilliamsonCAN42.6
377ITakayuki HidaJPN42.9
=385ILuvsanlkhagvyn DashnyamMGL43.0
=3812IGyörgy MartosHUN43.0
4022OOlavi HjellmanFIN43.1
=4117IColin CoatesAUS43.3
=4114IBob HodgesCAN43.3
4317ORuedi UsterSUI43.6
444OHansruedi WidmerSUI43.7
4514OMichel ThépénierFRA43.8
4622IFrançois PerrenoudFRA44.1
AC23IDave BodingtonGBRDNF