Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - American speedskater Heather Richardson had the fourth-fastest time in the first race of the women's 500 meters on Tuesday.
Heavy favorite Lee Sang Hwa of South Korea, the reigning Olympic champion who is 7-0 in World Cup races this season, easily posted the fastest time at 37.42 seconds -- .15 seconds ahead of Russia's Olga Fatkulina
Zhang Hong of China stood third, another .01 seconds back.
Richardson, who finished sixth in 2010, was .15 back of Zhang. No American has won the 500 meters since Bonnie Blair captured her third gold medal in a row in 1994.
Canadian Christine Nesbitt and American Lauren Cholewinski were 11th and 12th with the second and final race coming up.
Reigning bronze medalist Wang Beixing of China stood sixth and 2010 silver medalist Jenny Wolf of Germany was eighth.