Top 16s in Turin earn GB skaters spots at Sochi

At the first of two Olympic qualifying events in Turin, Britain’s short track speed skaters have made a good start towards securing individual Olympic Winter Games quota places for Sochi 2014 after achieving a number of top 16-places.

Elise Christie successfully raced to the final sixteen in all three distances, while Jack Whelbourne reached the final sixteen in both the 1500m and 500m, positions which should secure the British team individual quota places for each of those distances at Sochi.

Jack Whelbourne and Elise Christie|
Image courtesy of Michael Poole

Christie (23) was one of the only female skaters competing in all three distances and showed that she was back on form after a challenging few months. She finished in sixth in the 1500, breaking fellow team mate Charlotte Gilmartin’s British record in the process. Christie said:

“Just now it isn’t really as important for me to go out and win medals, it’s important to try to qualify spots for the team. It’s been good, everything has gone well here. After how hard the past few months have been, it's nice to feel some relief eventually.”

Performance Director Stuart Horsepool said the squad has done well on securing individual spots for Sochi, but needs to improve on their relay performance in Kolomna to secure places for both the male and female teams at the Games:

“The last few days has been a lot of very intense racing with not a lot of time between rounds, so Elise and Jack have shown great composure and strength to make so far in all three distances. It will be a lot easier for them at the Games because there will be days between events instead of hours.

“We didn’t have the start we had hoped for in the men’s relay, so they need to improve in Kolomna to guarantee a place at Sochi. We know they are capable of turning things around as we saw at the World Cup in Seoul where they won bronze after going out early the previous week in Shanghai. They are not out of it yet, but next week will be vital for them.”

“The women did well in their relay and they’re in ninth place at the moment. They are still a young team so to be ninth in the world at this point for them is very exciting for the future.”

The squad now travels to the second Olympic qualifying event in Kolomna, which takes place from the 14-17 November. This will be the squads final chance to secure quota spaces for Sochi.

The final team selection for the Olympic Winter Games will be announced by the BOA in December.

Full results from World Cup III in Turin can be found at shorttrack.sportresult.com.

Further details on the Olympic qualifying process for short track can be found here.

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