Winter Olympics: Despair for Elise Christie as GB skater crashes out of semi-final at the final bend

Elise Christie of Britain is attended to after crashing during her women’s 1500 meters short track speedskating semifinal in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Elise Christie departed the Gangneung Ice Arena on a stretcher on Saturday night after crashing out of the women’s 1500m short track semi-finals, but retained hope of outrageous Olympic redemption.

Christie headed straight to hospital for scans on an ankle injury which revealed no broken bones.

That raised the possibility that she could yet return for a final medal shot in her favoured event, the 1000m, with qualification on Tuesday ahead of a final on Thursday.

In a statement the British Olympic Association said: “Following the race Elise Christie was taken to hospital accompanied by the team doctor, team physio and team leader.

“She has had an X-ray on her right ankle which has shown that there are no broken bones. Team GB medical staff will continue to assess her over the coming days.”

Christie’s Great Britain team-mate Charlotte Gilmartin also crashed out of her semi-final, and later Christie’s boyfriend, the Hungarian Shaolin Liu, completed the unfortunate set by going down in his own men’s 1000m final, taking out two South Korean skaters in the process.

Afterwards Liu shed light on Christie’s condition, revealing: “I had a phone call and she told me she was fine. She’s a tough woman and I think she is going to be fine.”

 

 

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Christie, who had previously crashed on the penultimate lap of the 500m final at the weekend, had tried to cut through to second place but took out China’s Li Jinyu, and suffered the indignity of being disqualified as she lay on the ice being tended by medics.

It extended Christie’s agonising and luckless run at the Games which began in Sochi with three disqualifications, and led to initial fears that she had suffered an injury which would bring a premature end to her third Games.

Speaking in the immediate aftermath of Christie’s crash, Team GB chef de mission Mike Hay said: “She took a heavy fall into the barrier.

“I’ve spoken to the performance director, Stewart Laing, who is in the ambulance with her on the way to hospital.

“It’s tough but right now it doesn’t really matter about the race or whatever, it’s really her health we’re concerned about and the scan will tell us.”

It is the latest chapter in a catalogue of Olympic misfortunes for Christie, stretching back to her luckless streak in Sochi, after which she endured weeks of abuse by South Korean skating fans having collided with one of their nation’s skaters.

 

Canadian skater Kim Boutin also received abuse in the wake of the women’s 500m earlier this week, but shrugged off the controversy and went on to win a bronze medal in the 1500m final.

Liu, who collided with Seo Yira and Lim Hyojun, sending all three of them to the deck, shrugged off the possibility of online abuse heading his way, joking: “I’m not worried – the South Koreans love me, because I’m handsome.”

The British short-track malaise is not confined to Christie. Her team-mate and close friend Gilmartin has also crashed out of each of her two events. She went down in the 1500m semi-final shortly before Christie’s own fall.

It marks a disappointing Olympics so far for Gilmartin, whose form during the World Cup season had suggested she may have the ability to accompany Christie onto the podium.

Gilmartin said of Christie’s injury: “I’m just hoping it’s an impact thing that’s shocked her but she doesn’t stay down for nothing.

“It’s horrendous. I really feel for her. I just hope it’s nothing major and the 1000m is all to play for.”