Last lap heartache for Elise Christie
Last updated: February 14, 2018 by Leon Marshal
For the second Winter Olympics in a row, British medal hopeful Elise Christie saw her Olympic dream go crashing. Four-years ago, Christie’s competition ended in similar style when at the Sochi games a fall caused her to take down a fellow competitor which resulted in death threats against Christie. Will other British hopes fare better?
British speed skating fans will feel a certain amount of déjà vu as Elise Christie went crashing out of the final of the 500-metre short track speed skating event. Despite flying through the quarter-final and semi-final stages at the Gangneung Ice Arena in South Korea, the final would prove to be a painful reminder of the last winter games in Sochi.
In those games Christie had been one of the favourites for all three of the 500m, 1000m and 1500m events but ultimately was disqualified in two and crashed in the other. During the crash in Sochi, South Korean Park Seung-Hi also fell and this led to the Brit receiving a torrent of online abuse and even death threats, Something the 27-year-old would later seek the help of a sports psychologist to help her recover from.
And while it is understandable that the Scottish short track speed skater will be dreading a repeat of the whitewash she suffered in the Olympics last time out, she does have a chance to redeem this result as she has two more chances to get a medal. Christie contests the 1500-short track speed skating event on Saturday before the taking part in the 1000-metre event next Tuesday.
The Great Britain medal hopefuls
This year, Great Britain is sending the largest contingent of athletes ever to a winter Olympics with 59 competing in Pyeongchang.
The winter Olympics doesn’t seem to have the same appeal as the summer Olympics here in Britain and much of this could be due to the much higher level of competitors (366 British athletes competed in the 2016 summer Olympic games) and also perhaps due to the phenomenal success that England, Scotland and Wales managed at the 2016 Summer Olympics. 27 golds, 23 silvers and 17 bronze medals put Britain in second place at Rio de Janeiro.
Returns on medals in the winter Olympics have been much sparser with Britain picking up just 11 golds in the entire history of the competition. Amy Williams became the first Brit to win a gold at the winter Olympics since the Women’s curling team in 2002, while the success before that was way back in 1984 when Jayne Torvill & Christopher Dean skated into the nation’s hearts.
Athletics funding agency has hit the headlines recently as they allocate money based on performance and expectations of success with some sports having most, if not all funding cut. Expectations have been set at two to three medals from skiing and snowboarding, while in curling they are predicting one or two medals and one in bobsleigh. A top-eight placement is expected in figure skating.
Is Lizzy Yarnold Britain’s best hope?
Four-years ago in Sochi, Lizzy Yarnold scooped gold in the skeleton event, on the back of Yarnold claiming the World title. For many, Yarnold represents Britain’s best hope for a gold medal. Lizzy’s performance in qualifying has been very encouraging.
Slopestyle skier James Woods could well find himself hitting the heights both literally and figuratively. Woods broke his hip before the last Olympics so the Sheffield born 26-year-old will have a lot to prove. James is used to winning, picking up six medals at the FIS World Cup and two medals at the FIS World Championships.
Another athlete born and bred in Sheffield is freestyle skier Katie Summerhayes. Katie finished 7th in Sochi aged just 18. Now more experienced and claiming medals at the World Cup and the FIS Championships will have boosted expectations of the 22-year-old.
The men’s four-man bobsleigh team finished fourth in the last Olympics but may yet see this upgraded to bronze in light of doping allegations involving the Russian team who finished third. The Brits will hope to claim a podium spot in this competition without the controversy.
31-year-old alpine ski racer Dave Ryding has a great chance to pick up some medals. His favourite event is Slalom and the ski racer from Chorley has competed in the two previous Olympics games as well as taking part in four World Championships. He also won the Europa Cup. This experience will be vital and quite rightly, Ryding is expected to do well.
The winter Olympics is in Pyeongchang, South Korea and runs until the 25th February. You can watch all the action on BBC with events available on TV, red button, mobile app and the BBC website.