Further disappointment for Christie in Sochi

Elise Christie was denied a place in the 1500m quarter-final today despite crossing the line first in a photo finish with Italian Arianna Fontana in the heats this morning. After deliberation by the judges, Christie was penalised before having the decision revised as a DNF (did not finish). 

It was later confirmed that Christie had skated inside the track as she crossed the finish line and not passed over the line that marks the finish. Short track skaters are allowed to skate inside on the straight during the race, but not on the finishing straight and the photo finish confirmed to decision.

Devastated Elise Christie in SochiElise Christie said: “I was waiting to watch my team-mate (Charlotte Gilmartin) race and I didn't know whether I'd come first or second but I believed I'd qualified and skated a clean race. However, they've disqualified me.”

Christie now looks ahead to her preferred distance, the 1000m, on Tuesday. She added: “It's out of my control now, it's happened and I need to get on with it. I'm looking forward to getting back out there for the 1000m but it's been a hard few days and I'm struggling to bounce back. I'm just going to try my best.”

National Short Track Coach Nicky Gooch commented: “The referee said Elise didn't cross the line. Where the finish line crosses the track, she crossed inside that line. The judge ruled she was off track and that means officially she hasn't finished the race.

“She'd done nothing wrong. She tried to win the race because there is a benefit to that and the referee has called it off track. I've seen it called before but it doesn't happen normally and I was really shocked. I've looked at the video and we're talking centimetres here. To the letter of the law it's probably right but she's clearly qualified through that race but the rules say you can't be inside the line.”

Charlotte Gilmartin followed Christie in the heats of the 1500m. Gilmartin faced a strong line up, including eventual gold medal winner Valerie Maltais of Canada. The 23-year-old, who is making her Olympic debut in Sochi, skated confidently and finished in 5th place, with only the top 3 advancing to the quarterfinal.

Being her first Olympics, Gilmartin was pleased with the result but has hopes to use the experience in Sochi to help her at the next Olympic Winter Games in Pyeong Chang in four years time. She said:

“I wanted to do as well as possible but this was always about preparing for the next Olympics and getting the experience of competing on this stage. I'm not beating myself up too much, I'm just going to go home and train even harder.”

Great Britain are next in action on Tuesday, with Jon Eley and Jack Whelbourne in the heats of the 500m, and Elise Christie returning for the heats of the 1000m.

Tuesday 18 February
09:30 - Ladies’ 1000m heats: Elise Christie
10:17- Men’s 500m heats: Jon Eley, Jack Whelbourne

For more details on GB Short Track and its athletes at Sochi 2014, please visit www.gbshorttrack.org/sochi2014.