Christie back on the ice and into the 1000m quarters
February 18, 2014 12:13 pm
Short track speed skater Elise Christie briefly considered ending her Olympic campaign - but returned to the ice to produce a sparkling qualifying performance to advance to Friday's 1000m quarter-finals.
Christie, 23, has had a tough Games, starting with her disqualification in the final of the 500m and continuing with a disastrous qualifying performance in the 1500m, when it was ruled she skated inside the finishing line, despite appearing to win the race.
But she returned to winning ways by skating a tactically astute race over the distance in which she won the recent European Championships and finished last season ranked number one in the world.
She stayed safe at the back of the field and then burst clear of her rivals with three laps to go, winning by a commanding distance.
"I've had a few days feeling quite down and I struggled in training yesterday and I was pretty emotional," she said
"I was told about all the support back home and I smiled for the first time in a while. I was considering not getting back on the ice but the support I've had has pushed me to get back on.
"I'm really pleased with how I skated and thankful to all the support I've had. I didn't train very well and I was quite emotional but when I stepped on the ice I was ready to go and felt very confident.
"My coach wanted me just to enjoy it and get the love back for skating. He told me to use my instincts so I decided to sit at the back and then go clear at the end."
Jon Eley bounced back from a disappointing performance over 1000m to make the next round of the 500m later this week, his principle target in Sochi.
And his bid to make a second career Olympic final was improved when medal favourite, Canada's Charles Hamelin, fell in another heat.
"I've been waiting for a while to get out there after Thursday's performance. It was a good start, I tucked in behind the Russian and I'm very pleased to come through in second," said Eley, competing at his third Games and Team GB's opening ceremony flagbearer.
"It is going to be tough but it helps we lost the Olympic champion, which weakens the competition a little bit. It's back to back races now, three in a row, and I need to be prepared.
"Come Friday I will be tuned into the same performance, it couldn't have gone any better for me. I didn't quite get it right for the 1000m but I did today."
However, Jack Whelbourne - while showing no effects from his ankle injury after falling in the 1000m final - failed to progress, though the sprint distance was the weaker of his three events in Russia and an outside starting position didn't help his cause.
"It was a hard field, we had two silver medallists and guy who has won a B final, so it was a very high calibre race to be part of," he said.
"I'm not the fastest starter and they turned the pace on early. I just had to bide my time and unfortunately when I tried to make my move it didn't open up for me.
"When I saw where I was drawn and who I was drawn against I just laughed. However, there are no excuses, you have to beat everyone."
© Sportsbeat 2014