Great Britain’s Elise Christie has come away with a bronze medal in the 1000m at the ISU World Cup in Kolomna, though her achievement was far from easy. A mere 24-hours prior to this race the Scot escaped a potentially serious injury when she collided with fellow racers Kim Alang from Korea and Arianna Fontana from Italy during the semi-finals of the 1500m. However she soon recovered to take an impressive place on the podium and boost Britain’s Winter Olympic bid.
The 23-year old was fortunate enough to only experience minor injuries from the incident, and she persevered; she raced through and competed the next day in her preferred distance, the 1000m.
In reaction to her marvellous, unexpected comeback Christie said, “It hurt a lot on the start,” which, as a result, affected her desired racing style throughout the remainder of the tournament. She added, “I had to skate this way in all three rounds today so to come away with a bronze, I’m really pleased with that.”
The British speed skater was also quick to voice her appreciation for the work done by the team to help get her up and back in the blocks the very next day: “I want to thank all the medical staff and everyone that have helped me, especially Mike (Brownlow), he’s our physio, he did a great job to make sure I was able to race today.”
Following the optimism felt going into the two ISU World Cup events in Turin and Kolomna, performance director Stuart Horsepool acknowledged the inevitable realities of the sport in light of Christie’s setback. Yet he lauded her incredible recovery to win bronze and praising a “fantastic” performance that “the whole team is really proud of.”
Christie’s determination following the incident most certainly paid dividends to Britain’s Winter Olympic qualification cause, with the young speed skaters bronze medal ensuring a successful finale to their Turin and Kolomna campaigns and winning vital quota places at Sochi 2014.
There was more news for Britain, with Solihull-born Paul Stanley producing an impressive lifetime best in the qualifying rounds of the men’s 1000m, helping him to reach the events quarterfinals. The 30-year old Stanley eventually achieved 15th place overall, meaning that he should hopefully earn Team GB an additional quota place for Sochi.
With Horsepool looking to the Turin and Kolomna events with judicious ambition, he comes away from the final qualification events pleased with the team’s results and unprecedented performances from the individual athletes and relay squads involved. As well as his acclamation of Christie’s bronze medal achievement, the former GB Short Track athlete pointed to the encouraging display given by the women’s relay squad. Although the squad missed out on a qualification place, the director noted that they showed “a great deal of potential” in their first World Cup series together, and he looked forward to the “exciting” future they have in the four years up to Pyeong Chang Olympics in 2018.
Britain’s performances over the past two weeks at the World Cup events in Turin and Kolomna look to have resulted in Team GB Short Track winning a total of three male and two female individual quota places for the Olympic finals in Sochi next February. This is an unofficial calculation, however, and there will be an official announcement by the International Skating Union in December.
While the exact qualification allocations will work out when the ISU release them in a couple of weeks time, the British Olympic Association will reply with their selection of athletes to represent Great Britain at the Sochi Games around mid-December.
The upcoming events for Britain’s short track speed skaters are as follows:
Star Class Cup dates:
Star Class 4 (Germany) 22-24 November
Star Class 5 (Sweden) 10-12 January
Star Class 6 (Italy) 24-26 January
European Championships (Dresden, Germany) 17-19 January
2014 Winter Olympics (Sochi, Russia) 7-23 February
World Junior Championships 7-9 March
World Championships (Montreal, Canada) 14-16 March
Europa Cup Final (BUL) 21-23 March
How do you feel a strong presence at next years Winter Olympics in Sochi will help to inspire young people to pursue a winter sport?