The American won his 41/2-lap heat, finishing just in front of Canadian Olivier Jean. Ohno will return Friday, and he must advance through the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds to skate for a medal in the 500, where he is the defending Olympic champion.
Also on the final night of short track competition, Ohno will lead the U.S. men in the 5,000 relay final against powerful South Korea, China, Canada and France.
Ohno has won a silver and a bronze at the Vancouver Games, making him the most decorated U.S. Winter Olympian with seven career medals.
Also moving on was American Simon Cho, who finished second in his heat. His teammate, Jordan Malone, was skating second when he hit a lane marker and wiped out just before the finish. Only the top two finishers in each of eight heats advanced.
The 500 is about going as fast as a skater can from the very start. Ohno overtook Jean, who was cheered wildly by the pro-Canadian crowd.
Among others advancing were South Koreans Sung Si-bak, Lee Ho-suk and Kwak Yoon-gy, Canadians Charles Hamelin and Francois-Louis Tremblay, China's Han Jialiang and Haralds Silovs of Latvia, who qualified for these games in both short and long track speedskating.
Hamelin is the world champion, while Tremblay is ranked second.
- China won the women's 3,000-meter relay short track speedskating final after four-time defending champion South Korea was disqualified.
The South Koreans crossed the finish line first Wednesday night, but after several minutes of discussion among the referees, they were disqualified. South Korea clicked skates with China just after an exchange with five laps to go.