Agony for Elise Christie as Team GB speed skater crashes out in 500m short-track final
Elise Christie’s agonising wait for an Olympic medal continued after the Team GB speed skater crashed on the final lap of the 500m short-track final, which saw Arianna Fontana of Italy take gold.
The 27-year-old was hoping to banish the demons of her triple-disqualification at Sochi 2014, but she must now overcome the bitter disappointment and switch her focus to Saturday’s 1,000m event in Pyeongchang.
In the five-woman showdown, Christie was ultimately pushing for third when she slipped out of contention after contact with Yara van Kerkhof of the Netherlands.
Fontana went on to edge out South Korea’s Choi Min-jeong in a photo finish - though the home favourite was later penalised for cutting the line.
The Korean's disqualification meant Van Kerkhof took silver, while Canada’s Kim Boutin claimed bronze. Christie did manage to pick herself up to finish fourth, more than 40 seconds behind Fontana, who won with a time of 42.569 seconds.
“It’s short-track and we all say going in, we’re ready for that. If it’s the World Cup or the world championships, I am ready for it, but it’s something you’ve worked so hard for, and for someone to just knock you over and be over like that – it seems so unfair," Christie told Eurosport after the race.
“I remember being in bronze, and Choi was on the outside and then they bumped, so then I went into the space because that was the perfect opportunity, and then I thought, ‘If I get in second now, I can go for it on the last lap and that gives me time’ – but I got the hit.
“That’s the problem when there are five people in the final. If there are four people I’d still have a bronze medal right now.”
Arianna Fontana of Italy celebrates after winning the gold medal in the Ladies' 500m Short Track Speed Skating finalGetty Images
Having missed out on the chance of winning Team GB’s first medal of the Games, Christie must dust herself off when going for glory in the 1,000m on Saturday, before targeting further success in the 1,500m next week.
The 27-year-old is the reigning world champion in both of the upcoming events, which also helped her take overall gold in Rotterdam last year.
“I’m going to have a day to get over it, and then I will need to get back focused. The 1,000m is more the distance I’m focused on," Christie added.
“I’ve got the best part of a week to get re-focused on that so it’ll be fine. But this is my favourite distance, I love it.”