Elise Christie just can’t catch a break.
The British speed skater is a world record holder who holds a bevy of gold medals at both the World and European championships. But Christie has never won an Olympic medal. She had a heartbreaking experience in Sochi in 2014 by being disqualified in the 500, 1000 and 1500 meter events under various circumstances.
With those experiences behind her, Christie hoped to finally break through in PyeongChang, but that elusive Olympic medal has yet to come to fruition. There has been additional heartbreak involved, too.
Christie cruised through the 500 meter qualifying, breaking the Olympic record in the process, to arrive at Tuesday’s final. Disaster struck again, however, as Christie crashed during the race and finished fourth in the five-woman final.
Replays showed Christie’s inside hand being bumped by Yara van Kerkhof of the Netherlands, who took silver in the event behind Italy’s Arianna Fontana. Canada’s Kim Boutin won the bronze while Choi Min-jeong, the South Korean second-place finisher, was disqualified (which South Korean fans are not happy about).
How did they not see this?!? pic.twitter.com/Xjop5s51mZ
— Paul White Photo (@PaulWhitePhoto) February 13, 2018
“I was knocked over, I didn’t fall on my own,” Christie said, according to Reuters. “I’ve worked so hard for the 500 and it was taken away from me.
”I got crashed into in the semi and so got lane four (for the final)…I know it’s short track and you have to prepare for his but it hurts. It’s out of my control. I got knocked over and that’s that. When it’s something you’ve worked on, for someone to knock you over, it seems so unfair….at least I can go home and think I didn’t make any mistakes but it still sucks.”
Christie described the crash from her perspective, via The Guardian:
In short track speed skating, where riders ping around at 20mph, jostling and bumping for position as they do so, the gap between glory and failure is often as thin as the one-millimetre blades on their skates. As Christie knows all too well.
“There was three of us in a line, and I saw the Korean and the Canadian bump so I thought it’s time to move now,” said Christie. “So I’ve still got a lap and a half to try and win and that was when winning was on my mind. But then I was knocked over.”
Christie’s fate in the 500m recalled the circumstances of her fall to eighth place in the same event in the 2014 Sochi Games. In that instance, Christie was deemed responsible for a collision that took out, coincidentally, Fontana and Park Seung-Hi of South Korea (leading to social media vitriol from Seung-Hi’s fans).
But Christie’s quest for an Olympic medal doesn’t end with the 500. The 27-year-old still has the 1000 and 1500 meter events on the horizon. In her estimation, the 1000m is her best event. In Sochi, the 1000m semifinal ended in another crash (one that was, again, blamed on her), leaving her disqualified. To cap off her brutal time in Sochi, she was also disqualified from the 1500 after she was “deemed not to have crossed the official finish line marked in the ice” by “1 centimeter.”
She’s hoping things turn out for the better this time around. She can’t take much more misfortune.
“Hopefully, I can come back again, I can reset, I’ve got a week until my best distance (she races over 1000m and 1,500m),” she said. “But right now I can’t see living with this feeling.”
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