Winter Olympics 2014: It’s heartbreak No 3 as Elise Christie crashes again and fails to reach final of short-track speed skating
A 'heartbroken' Christie and the Chinese skater Li Jianrou were both penalised for the collision that had swept them out
Saturday 22 February 2014
Elise Christie’s disastrous Olympic Games came to an ignominious end when she was sent sprawling across the ice in the semi-finals of the 1,000m, the event in which she was striving for redemption after two disqualifications.
She picked herself up and crossed the line in third place, outside the qualifying spots for the final and then, as if to kick her when she was down, it turned into an unwanted hat-trick.
A “heartbroken” Christie and the Chinese skater Li Jianrou were both penalised for the collision that had swept them out of what had been a tight race. Christie, who had zipped impressively through her quarter-final, had worked her way through the field as it approached the final stages and, from third place, appeared set to attempt one of her signature wide sweeps around her opponents.
Instead she tried to go up the inside, became boxed in with Jianrou and began jostling with the world No 5. Christie appeared to make the first shove, Jianrou shoved back. Down went the Chinese, Christie went with her – the judges blamed both and penalised both – and that was the desperate end of a desperate second Olympics for the 23-year-old Scot.
“They said that I pushed her over,” said Christie. “The problem with short track is that every referee has a different opinion. I will always accept the referee’s position but I don’t agree with it.”
It had begun so well 10 days ago when Christie advanced encouragingly to the final of the 500m. Short track is a frenetic sport, a mad dash around a tight track where races are won and lost in split seconds, and often by happenings beyond your control. Christie crossed the line in the 500m in silver medal position but within moments she had been disqualified for causing the pile-up that brought down three of the four-strong field. Among the fallers was Park Seung-hi of Korea, whose demise sparked a torrent of online abuse, including threats of violence, directed at Christie.
Christie crashes out and is then disqualified for the third time in short-track speed skating (Getty Images) Park had her moment when she went on to win the 1,000m, in which Christie is European champion. The two are friends and Park had appealed for the abuse of the Scot to stop. The volume and vitriol of it unsettled Christie and last Saturday, a couple of days after it began, she made a simple error in the heats of the 1500m to collect another penalty. Her mind was a muddle and she considered quitting the Games.
Instead she returned to the ice for Tuesday’s heats in the 1,000m and qualified as third-fastest for last night’s quarter-finals. Her quarter-final further raised hopes – but not for long.
Jon Eley also failed to make it through to the final of the men’s 500m after finishing last in his semi-final. To the delight of a full house inside the Iceberg Skating Palace, the gold went to Victor Ahn, the Korean-turned-Russian. It was his fifth Olympic short-track gold – three of them for Korea and now two for Russia after he was persuaded to switch allegiance after not being selected for his home nation for the 2010 Games. The Russians, keen to collect as many medals as possible on home soil, gave him citizenship a year later.
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