Long track speed skater Lee Sang-Hwa of South Korea leads after the first round in the 500 metres, while Canadian medal hopeful Christine Nesbitt sits well back in 13th place.
Lee skated to a time of 38.24, while gold medal favourite Jenny Wolf, of Germany, came up just short to finish second place. The two were paired together and skated a thrilling race that saw Lee edge the German by only 0.06 seconds.
Chirstine Nesbitt has a small chance to reach the podium, but it would take the skate of her life as her time of 38.88 is 0.4 seconds off the pace of third place finisher Wang Beixing of China.
One of the heavy favourites of the event, Annette Gerritsen of the Netherlands, fell on the first turn to end the Netherlands’ best hope for a speed skating gold medal in the 500 metres. A star in the speed skating obsessed Netherlands, Gerritsen had one of the fastest times after the first 100 metres but as she approached the first turn, her skate appeared to catch the ice and slip out underneath her. She tried to regain balance but lost the battle, falling hard into the wall.
The Netherlands must now look to Margot Boer, who sits in fourth place, only 0.27 seconds behind Lee.