The fastest sprinter of the early 70s was American Sheila Young, who won the World Sprints in 1973, 1975, and would win them again a few weeks later in 1976. Except for a fall in one 500 at the 1974 World Sprints, she had lost only one international 500 since the 1972 Winter Olympics, and only a week before the Olympics, had set her second 500 world record with 40.91 at Davos. She was heavily favored in Innsbruck. Her biggest challengers were expected to be Soviet Tayana Averina, who had set two world records at the distance, and her teammate, Leah Poulos, who had won the 1974 World Sprints when Young had fallen in one race. Of the favorites, Young was the first to start, in the fifth pair, and she recorded 42.76 to move into the lead ahead of Canada’s Cathy Priestner, who had skated in the pair before her and posted 43.12. Poulos started in the eighth pair, but could not match either time, finishing in 43.21, which would eventually place her fourth. In the next pair, Soviet Vera Krasnova put a scare into Young with a very fast 100 in 10.64, 0.18 ahead of Young’s start, but she could not maintain that pace and would finish fifth. When Averina finished the 12th pairing in 43.17, the medals were set, with Young winning as expected, Priestner getting silver, and Averina the bronze. A few weeks later, Young would win all four races at the 1976 World Sprints. She was also a cycling sprint champion, winning the women’s sprint at the 1973 World Championships, finishing third in 1975, and she would again win the World Championship in the cycling sprint later in 1976 and in 1981.