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Clouds but no silver lining as Christie appeal gets short shrift

FOR 30 seconds yesterday Livingston's Elise Christie thought she had doubled Britain's medal tally at the Winter Olympics, before the perils of short-track speed skating once again became apparent.

Elise Christie is comforted after she was penalised for impeding another competitor in the women's 500m short-track speedskating final. Picture: AP
Elise Christie is comforted after she was penalised for impeding another competitor in the women's 500m short-track speedskating final. Picture: AP

Christie powered her way through the quarter-finals and semi-finals of her least-favoured 500m distance and, with just four in the final, appeared on the verge of a medal.

She thought she had delivered one too, as she crossed the line in second place, but it was the seconds leading up to that moment that would leave Christie in tears.

After a false start, Christie attempted an inside move on Italian Arianna Fontana ahead of the second bend, only for the two to collide and fly into the crash mats.

Korean Park Seung-Hi, who was just ahead of the contact, then fell exiting the bend, with Christie quickly righting herself to just take second behind China's Li Jianrou, who almost lapped the three fallers.

However, it soon became obvious that the race referee had not taken kindly to Christie's early move and the Scot was demoted to eighth place behind the four B finalists, with Fontana lifted to silver ahead of Park.

Coach Nicky Gooch, the last Briton to win an Olympic short-track medal, at Lillehammer in 1994, pleaded Christie's case but it fell on deaf ears, as did an Italian claim for the final to be rerun.

It was all a little familiar at the Iceberg Skating Palace, after GB's Jack Whelbourne got caught by a stray marker in his 1500m final on Monday, and injured his ankle in the subsequent fall.

However, with Christie's preferred 1000m and 1500m events to come she is adamant, with five days until the former, this drama will be long gone.

"I thought I had more speed, so I moved up while I could to stay out of the way of fourth place because she was going to attack at the end," said Christie. "And I got bumped by the girl outside of me and it knocked me off my feet.

"And then everyone else was around me because unfortunately they got knocked over as well. Obviously I am quite upset about it. I did everything I could and it didn't pay off.

"The referee has made a decision and I have to respect that. I do respect it. Everyone will have a different opinion on what happened but that is the way short track works when it comes to it. It is out of my control.

"It is pretty annoying. People don't normally take hits in the first lap. It is frustrating that the race was kind of over from the start. No-one really got to see what they could do out there.

"I will probably need a day to get over it all. There is almost a week until my main event so I will be fine for that."

Christie is not the only British athlete at these Games to have taken

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