SHORT-TRACK skating is coming home at these Olympics because no country takes this dizzying and dramatic sport quite as seriously as South Korea.

As Lim Hyo-jun crossed the line to win the men’s 1500m, the hosts’ first gold of the Games, the noise built to such an ear-splitting crescendo you could feel the reverberations beneath your feet. No wonder Elise Christie laughs at those who tell her to treat the Olympics as “just another competition”.

Christie breezed through 500m qualifying yesterday in an Olympic record – and promptly vowed to go even faster when the medals are decided on Tuesday, claiming her own world record will be under threat.

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However, she did admit to opening night nerves, as she returned to her sport’s biggest stage, four years on from the tears of her last experience, when everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.

Since then, Christie has won 11 world medals, including three golds last year, and has worked hard to erase the anxieties that once affected her form and confidence. The vulnerability of Sochi has been replaced by a quiet and steely confidence, success here remains the dream but she’s perhaps accepted that she won’t be defined by it should it never happen.

“It’s the Olympics, there are rings everywhere, you can’t escape it, you have to embrace it,” said Christie. “When people say they want to pretend it’s just a normal compet-ition, I don’t know how they do it because everything is on another level.

“It was really loud out there. When they said my name I heard a lot of cheers. Obviously, compared to the home skaters, it was nothing but still was really nice and made the whole thing feel even more special.

“As much as winning a gold, my goal at this Olympics is to enjoy it because I didn’t get to enjoy the last one. If I do retire after this, which I’m not saying I will, I want to have a good memory about the Olympics either way.”

Not a natural fast starter, Christie claims short track’s sprint distance is her weakest medal chance, despite holding the 42.335 second world record.

It was 1000m and 1500m that the 27-year-old won world titles last year but, on this evidence, perhaps she is being just a coy.

But she took the race on, getting in front of her rivals early and staying out of trouble by controlling the pace from the front.

She clocked 42.872 seconds, the quickest time at the Olympics for eight years, before Korean rival Minjeong Choi fractionally bettered it moments later.

It ensured she progressed to Tuesday’s decisive medal races, with three knockout rounds between her and her undoubted podium potential.

“I’m just excited now, I hope I can beat my world record here because that would be awesome and I’m in better shape than I was then,” she said. “Racing hasn’t gone well recently because of injuries so I wanted to put a statement out there to say ‘I’m back’. I think I’ve showed them that.

“I was so nervous before the race, it was like an Olympic final. I don’t think I’ve been as nervous as that for about six years.

“This is the first time most of the British public have seen me since Sochi and I obviously have small fears of that happening again, so I think it was all related to that. It’s just a relief and now I feel ready to focus on actually doing the skating and getting the job done.”

Christie’s Olympic record was the only thrill on a day otherwise dominated by spills for Team GB hopefuls. In addition to the snowboarders taking untimely tumbles, her short track team-mates Charlotte Gilmartin, Kathryn Thomson and Farrell Treacy were also sent flailing.

Watch Elise Christie go for gold on Tuesday February 13th on Eurosport 1. Don’t miss a moment of the Olympic Winter Games on Eurosport and Eurosport Player. Go to www.Eurosport.co.uk