All or nothing attitude the only option for Elise Christie
Short Track Speed Skating

All or nothing attitude the only option for Elise Christie

07 February 2018 / 06:29

Elise Christie remembers clearly the day she knew she'd never be an Olympic figure skater.

Then again, you only need to spend a few minutes in the company of Britain’s leading medal hope at these Games to realise she’s not a sequins, glitter and mascara sort of girl.

“I do my make up and hair still, perhaps I’m the Barbie of speed skating,” she jokes.

If Christie is feeling the weight of national expectation ahead of her third Olympic appearance this weekend then she’s doing a very good job of hiding it.

Laughing, joking and holding court with confidence, it’s a far cry from the tears of Sochi, when she fell in two races and was disqualified in another, becoming the victim of death threats after colliding with Korean favourite Park Seung-hi.

This is her third Games and there’s a feeling everything that has come before - she’s certainly lived the Olympic motto about triumph and struggle - has been about this moment.

Three golds at last year’s World Championships underlined what could happen in the days ahead.

But this is short track, skaters careering around a track at 35mph where a bump or push at the wrong time can leave the greatest champ feeling like the greatest chump.

Snowboarders at these Games have perfected the go hard or go home mantra, the win or bust strategy that rewards risk.

Christie is talking the same game here in PyeongChang – insisting she’d risk it all for gold – even if that meant returning empty handed again.

“Perhaps in Sochi I could have sat in third place and picked up a bronze but would I have been happy with that? My life might have changed a bit but my feelings wouldn’t,” she said.

“Other people might have a different opinion of me but I don’t think I’d have a different opinion of myself. I’m not saying I’m going to win a gold but that’s the intention.

“I’ve not trained this hard not to give myself that opportunity, if I get a penalty on the last lap pushing for first place then so be it. I’ve learned to accept failure. In the past I think I hesitated when I got in a winning position because I felt the responsibility of securing medals.

“I just decided that approach was making me unhappy. I want to know I’ve done everything I can for gold. If I’m in second place with three laps to go and I don’t try to go for gold, that’s worse than doing it and failing.

“I don’t look at medal targets and listen to other people's expectations. I really want to win and I believe in myself and what I’m doing. Perhaps I didn’t have the self-belief before. I’m confident now but I’m not desperate either.

EliseChristie

“I’ve always had the physical ability but the World Championships last year proved I had the mental ability too. The change was my mindset, the mental edge was the difference.”

Working with a psychologist has given her a renewed sense of purpose, she’s embracing the pressure and determined that she won’t be defined by the tears of four years ago.

“I’ve found ways to relax, take my mind off skating. My house looks like a show home, I just love cleaning, I think I’ve got a problem actually,” she jokes.

“I don’t want to be remembered as that girl who was bullied on the internet at the Olympics. I want people to remember me for my sport and my achievements.”

Returning to Korea also holds no fear for Christie, whose tangle with their home hero in Sochi lead to death threats. This time around Shim Suk-hee is expected to be her main rival.

“It’s a national sport, you get treated like a different type of human being here, it’s what is going to make these Games so special,” she adds.

“You get stuff thrown at you - nice things like teddy bears - and someone gave me a mug with my face on once, which was a bit surreal.”

Sportsbeat 2018

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