|Date||22 February 1988 — 18:00|
|Location||Olympic Oval, Calgary|
|Participants||30 from 15 countries|
|Olympic Record||41.02 / Christa Rothenburger GDR / 10 February 1984|
Since 1980, women’s sprinting had been dominated by East Germany. Karin Kania won the World Sprint Championships in 1980-81, 1983-84, and 1986-87, while her compatriot Christa Rothenburger had taken the title in 1985 and 1988 - a week before the Olympics. In recent years, the duo had gotten competition from American Bonnie Blair, with the three occupying the podium at the past three World Sprint Championships, and dividing the medals in both 500 ms at the 1988 edition in West Allis. The trio had also divided the World Cup races of the season thus far: Kania had won one, Rothenburger and Blair two. To clarify that these three were the absolute favorites, they had all three held the world record in recent years. In 1983, Rothenburger had been the first to go below 40 seconds. She lost her record to Kania in 1986, who in turn lost it to Blair, in 1987. At the Calgary World Cup in December 1987, Rothenburger took the record back, setting the mark at 39.39.
Of the three title contenders, Rothenburger was the first to compete. In the second pair, she lowered the Olympic Record (set by Andrea Ehrig in the previous race at 40.71) by more than 1.5 seconds: 39.12 - a world record. Blair then took off in heat four. Her 100 m split, 10.55, was 0.02 faster than Rothenburger’s. That would prove to be enough to beat the East German, as Blair then copied the full lap time of Rothenburger, to finish in 39.10, again bettering the world record. As usual, Kania had a slower start than the two leaders, but was expected to have a better lap. She did, but it was not enough to overtake the two leaders. As expected, none of the others came within half a second of the winning time.
|14||9O||Edel Therese Høiseth||NOR||40.95||11.19|
|27||12I||Marie-France van Helden||FRA||42.49||11.58|