BEIJING — Corinne Stoddard has fulfilled her dream of competing in short track speed skating at this year’s Winter Olympics.
But the 20-year-old Federal Way native made a forgetful Olympic debut on Saturday, failing to complete her preliminary 500-meter race after losing her balance and crashing on the third of 4½ laps.
Prior to his crash, Stoddard looked set to advance to Monday’s quarterfinals in the fifth of eight ends. With just two laps to go in the sprint event, the Pattison’s West product ran just meters behind China’s Yuting Zhang and Italy’s leader Arianna Fontana.
Needing to pass Zhang for second in the four-man heat or at least finish in third place with a faster time than third in the other heats, Stoddard seemed to cut a corner too sharply. As she tried to straighten up for the stretch run of the oval, Stoddard’s right skate gave way, sending her into a sitting position against the wall.
Olympic judges at Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing ruled that Stoddard was not hindered by any of the other three skaters. Stoddard did not speak to the media after Sunday’s early arrival, and a spokesperson for USA Speed Skating said she was not injured in the crash.
Suzanne Schulting of the Netherlands finished first of 32 skaters in Saturday’s heats with an Olympic record time of 42.37 seconds. Fellow Americans Kristen Santos, who won the final heat with a time of 43.58 seconds, and Maame Biney, who finished third in her heat with a faster time of 42.92, also qualified for the heats. qualifying for Monday’s 500m.
After her crash, Stoddard was not included in the four-person U.S. mixed relay team, which skated less than two hours after her 500m individual event. Santos and Biney joined American men Andrew Heo and Ryan Pivirotto in the first Olympic relay event but finished eighth out of 12 countries competing after a disqualifying penalty in the semi-finals.
Stoddard is still likely to compete as scheduled in the U.S. women’s 3,000-meter relay team on Wednesday. Bellevue native Eunice Lee, 17, will also be vying for one of four spots on that team and could become the youngest member of an American speed skating relay team since 1998.
Both Stoddard and Lee honed their ice skating skills at the Puget Sound Speed Skating Club. They are the first local short track speed skaters to represent the United States at the Olympics after a successful streak of local male skaters dating back to 2002.