The 500m short track speedskating event is unpredictable, just five laps at full speed, barely allowing any time for passing.
Three Americans entered Tuesday's heats hoping to advance, including Pennsylvania's John-Henry Krueger, the silver medalist in the 1000m.
But all of them failed to do so. Krueger came last in his heat, Thomas Insuk Hong came third and Aaron Tran was penalized.
Into the quarterfinals were Lim Hyojun and Seo Yira of South Korea, Wu Dajing of China and Samuel Girard of Canada.
Krueger hoped to use his Pyeongchang experience to push toward 2022.