Winter Olympics: Elise Christie’s hopes over after 1,000m disqualification

Winter Olympics: Elise Christie’s hopes over after 1,000m disqualification
Christie disqualified in 1,000m heats
XXIII Olympic Winter Games
Venue: Pyeongchang, South Korea Dates: 9-25 February
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, Red Button, Connected TVs, BBC Sport website and mobile app. Full coverage times

Briton Elise Christie’s hopes of a medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics are over after she was disqualified in her 1,000m short track heat.

The 27-year-old – who appeared to be in significant pain because of an ankle injury – finished second after her fall on the first lap led to a restart.

But the judges deemed her to have committed an offence during the race which resulted in her disqualification.

Christie damaged her ankle during Saturday’s 1500m semi-final.

It was a sad end to another disappointing Games for the Scot – a triple world champion, including in the 1,000m – who was carried out of the skaters’ area after the race.

Christie, who was disqualified in all three of her events at Sochi 2014, fell in the 500m final and suffered the same fate in Saturday’s 1500m semi-final.

‘I’ll be back for Beijing’ – Christie

The British skater told BBC Sport that despite her continuing disappointments in the Olympics, she is targeting a return at Beijing 2022.

“You’ll have to ask me tomorrow [Wednesday] how I feel,” she said. “I’m a bit shell-shocked. I worked so hard to get back from this injury. I promise Britain I will fight back from this and I will come back in Beijing and hopefully I can do Britain proud then.

“I have so much belief in the programme and in myself. It wasn’t through a lack of capability, it was just short track. What else can I say? Everyone has been a massive support – most of the people anyway.

“It’s just frustrating having to wait four more years – it just wasn’t meant to be this time. I would just like to thank all the kids who have sent me messages saying they are inspired.

“They have no idea how much that means to me. The fact five, six, seven year-olds find me inspiring brings tears to my eyes.”

She also queried the decision to penalise her in her heat.

“I don’t know how I got a yellow card,” added Christie. “I have never had one in my life. I went up the inside and I passed the girl. I have no idea.

“The only thing I can think of is if the referee doesn’t think I was safe enough to race. I can see why he might not want me to race like that. He was encouraging me to get off the ice.”

A dramatic end to a forgettable Games for Christie

Elise Christie fell but after a restart finished in a qualifying spot, only to then be disqualified

The Scot’s fitness was said to be at “80% to 90%” as she lined up for Tuesday’s heat. Her fall in the 1500m resulted in an ankle injury and up until an hour before the race there was uncertainty over whether she would compete.

The drama began seconds after the first start when Christie fell over and then held her ankle and grimaced. Because it was on the opening lap, the race was restarted and Christie lined up again.

After starting very slowly, clearly nursing her ankle, she closed up on the rest of the field and jostled for a good position before finishing in second to book a place in the quarter-finals.

However, the judges decided Christie was guilty of two infringements, resulting in a yellow card and disqualification.

BBC analysts react

Jon Eley, former British short-track skater: That’s what sport is. That’s why we keep watching because it is so unpredictable. Elise Christie gave it everything and that is all we can ask for.

Wilf O’Reilly, former British short-track skater: There was immense courage that Elise Christie showed to get on the ice and to then go back to the start and be 20-30 metres off the pace, and close the gap in a qualifying position.

What I understand is there were two issues – I don’t think it was a penalty at all. She got a yellow card which is basically a warning for dangerous skating. If you are one of the favourites you will always be watched more than other skaters.

Sarah Lindsay, three-time British Olympic short-track skater: Elise is probably a bit shell-shocked and needs to let things sink in. She should take a holiday.

How you reacted

Paul Barrow: I don’t know much about the rules of speed skating, but I know a sickening blow when I see one. That was brutal.

Helen Lewis: Anybody else taking what’s happened to Elise Christie really personally? Hold your head up high Elise, all of Britain is really proud of you.

Robert Herman: I don’t think I have ever seen a more cursed athlete than Elise Christie! This is just ridiculous now!

Christie’s six disqualifications in full:

  • Sochi 2014, 500m: Christie is disqualified after tangling with Italy’s Arianna Fontana midway through the final.
  • Sochi 2014, 1,500m: The Briton suffers her second disqualification because of a controversial infringement at the finish line as she appeared to win her 1500m heat.
  • Sochi 2014, 1,000m: Christie is disqualified again after tangling with China’s Jianrou Li on the final bend of their 1,000m semi-final.
  • Pyeongchang 2018, 500m: The Scot tries to force her way through to third place on the last lap of the final, but falls after coming into contact with Yara van Kerkhof.
  • Pyeongchang 2018, 1500m: She crashes on the final bend of her 1500m semi-final and careers into the barriers. She is attended by medics before leaving the venue on a stretcher.
  • Pyeongchang 2018, 1,000m: Christie overcomes her ankle injury to make the start line, but crashes early. She recovers to make the restarted race and finishes in second place. It is good enough for qualification, but she is subsequently disqualified by the race judges.

Maybe Elise should try long track skating – analysis

Wilf O’Reilly, former British short-track skater:

We have the World Championships halfway through March in Canada. No athlete wants to go out on a downer, so depending on how serious her injury is, she’s the triple world champion, she can go to that event and say, “I had a bad Olympic Games, but this will be a nice way to finish the season”.

Thinking beyond that, she’s 27. This sport has a variation in terms of having very young kids – particularly from Asia – while in western Europe and North America they tend to be a little bit older.

Maybe she needs to go and do long track for a year. Maybe she goes and does track cycling. To do something completely different, so she’s still training and getting the physical side, but you end up not having the stresses of this sport. That would be my suggestion and my advice to Elise.

The World Championships are in a way more difficult to win than the Olympics. It’s an accumulation of points over the distances, and sometimes you get a bit of team skating tactics involved. The Olympic Games is about one day, a one off, you’re here today and then it’s gone.

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