Winter Olympics 2014: Elise Christie advances in short track speed skating as Team GB get back on track in Sochi
Christie was disqualified in the final of the 500m before being judged to have failed to finish in the 1500m heats
Tuesday 18 February 2014
A day for getting happily back on track in the British camp. David Murdoch’s curlers snatched a dramatic final-stone play-off victory to reach Wednesday’s semi-finals and the short-track speed skater Elise Christie returned to the ice after her disastrous weekend to secure her place in the later stages of her main event, the 1,000m, comfortably.
Christie won her heat in commanding style, suggesting she may yet banish the nightmares of her first week with a medal come Friday. It was a good day for the Scot, who managed two wins. The race was the second, the first was getting back on the ice.
The abuse she suffered in the wake of causing the pile-up that brought down the Korean Park Seung-hi in the final of the 500m last week came close to causing her to quit the Olympics altogether. Christie estimates she received two thousand abusive messages from Korea via social media, some of which threatened sexual violence. Others called her a “bitch” and a “fucking idiot”.
“I have been down and struggling psychologically,” said Christie. “I came and trained yesterday and found that quite difficult, really emotional, but then I was told about all the support I had from back home. I smiled for the first time in a while when I heard that. I was considering not getting back on [the ice].
“I’ve always got that grit in me that keeps me carrying on. But I have been low, the lowest I have felt in my career. I know [disqualifications] come with short track and I have to accept that, but I felt like I had a lot of people against me. My main worry was the next Olympics being in Korea and I was really stressed about that, but now I have the whole of Britain behind me that’s gone. I’m coming back up now. It’s horrible to have abuse on social media.”
Christie crossed the line in the silver medal position on Thursday but was swiftly disqualified. That night the abuse began and then on Saturday she was penalised for failing to cross the finish line properly in the 1500m heats.
Today she skated as well as she had in the early rounds of the 500m. This is the event in which she is European champion and a world championship medallist. She sat behind the other three women in her heat for most of the race and then shot past to win by more than two seconds. She is the third fastest qualifier for Friday’s medal rounds, where she will race against Park again in the quarter-finals.
In contrast to the high-speed dramas in the Iceberg Skating Palace, the action in the Ice Cube, host to the curling, has been a slow burner, at least until today. Murdoch is in his third Games, a former world champion, but he has never produced a shot like the one he sent down the ice this morning to snatch a place in Wednesday’s semi-finals.
Britain came into the final end never having led against Norway – sporting their most colourful trousers yet of the Games, a vivid splattering of red, white and blue as if they had been paint-bombed by Pussy Riot. Norway had a one-shot advantage but Murdoch had the hammer – the final stone of the final end.
He had a choice: take the easy one shot on offer, level the scores and go to an extra end, but with Norway holding the hammer. Or go for glory, a double take-out that if successful would win the match. Miss it and it was time to go home. He did not, and on Wednesday they play Sweden for a place in the final while Eve Muirhead’s rink meet Canada in the women’s semi-finals.
Rowan Cheshire, Britain’s freestyle skier, has withdrawn from Thursday’s half-pipe. The 18-year-old was knocked out in training on Sunday and under the sport’s guidelines requires six days to recover.
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