United States speed skater Brittany Bowe flew around the oval in a time of 25.22 over her first 300m during the women’s 1500m race on Monday.
Only two of 30 competitors had a faster start in the event than Bowe, but her burst faded quickly in the second half of her race. Her last lap was 32.18 seconds, which was the slowest of any skater who finished in the top 12.
The American crossed the finish line at 1:55.81, which resulted in a 10th-place finish.
“I just didn’t have the legs there at the end," Bowe said after the race. "I'm disappointed but it is what it is. I gave it everything I had, and (I am) excited for the next opportunity."
Bowe finished fifth in the 1500m at the 2018 Winter Olympics with a time of 1:55.54. She went on to win a silver medal in the discipline at the 2021 World Championships, emerging as a gold medal contender at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.
Dutch skater Ireen Wuest won the event by setting the Olympic record with a time of 1:53.28. It was her sixth career gold medal and 12th podium finish.
The 1500m is Bowe's longest race, while others in the competition were more accustomed to further distances. The 33-year-old from Ocala, Florida, still thrived in the discipline leading up to the Olympics, but the softer ice at the National Speed Skating Oval makes speed difficult to maintain.
"It’s tough," Bowe said. "It’s worker ice. The ladies that come from that 3000m, 1500m specialty definitely had the upper hand today."
Bowe still faces opportunities to earn her first individual Olympic medal in the the 500m and 1000m races.
She took home a bronze medal in team pursuit at the 2018 Winter Olympics, but the U.S. did not qualify in the event for 2022.
Bowe is the reigning world champion in the women's 1000m, and she said leading up to the Olympics that she is ready for the pressure of having a target on her back.
"I’ll be racing the 500m in a week, so that will be nice to work on the speed, and the focus is definitely on that 1000m, going for gold there at the end of the competition," Bowe said.