Strong start for Christie and Whelbourne at Sochi qualifier

08 November 2013 / 07:51

Elise Christie and Jack Whelbourne eased through their heats at the short-track speed skating World Cup in Turin to edge Great Britain ever closer to securing places at next year's Winter Olympics.

British team officials are targeting top 16 finishes at the first of two Olympic qualifiers, with team boss Stuart Horsepool ambitiously looking to guarantee quota slots in all three men's and women's distances and book qualification in both relays for the first time.

And World medallist Christie and Whelbourne secured their places in the quarter-finals of the 500m and 1500m and Christie still has her signature 1000m distance, in which she finished last season ranked world number one, to come.

Elsewhere, Charlotte Gilmartin crashed in her 1500m heat and failed to progress through her opening race in the 500m sprint distance, while women's team-mates Alex Stanley and Kathryn Thomson also didn't make it out the preliminaries.

Jon Eley, an Olympic finalist in 2006, was controversially disqualified in the heats of his specialty 500m after colliding with US skater Eduardo Gonzalez while Richard Shoebridge didn't progress through the 1500m preliminaries.

However, Paul Stanley made the quarter-finals of the 500m as the third fastest in his heat.

© Sportsbeat 2013