By RYAN BANGS in Sochi

FOR 30 seconds yesterday Elise Christie thought she had doubled Great Britain's medal tally in Sochi - only for her team-mates' cheers of joy to quickly turn to her own tears of frustration.

Short track speed skating fans are warned to expect the unexpected and top athletes know you need to be both good and lucky to succeed.

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So far British skaters haven't had much luck though. Jack Whelbourne fell in the final of the 1500m and Christie was penalised in yesterday's 500m final.

The sprint distance is said to be Scot's weakest event but when she lined up in the four-skater final odds were stacked that she'd make the podium.

But she was penalised for making an inside move that dragged down two others and while she got back up to finish second, the judges knocked her down to eighth.

Coach Nicky Gooch, the last British skater to win an Olympic medal at Lillehammer 1994, pleaded her case but it fell on deaf ears as did an Italian claim for the final to be rerun.

"The referee has made a decision and I have to respect that," said Christie. "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 may have got close to doubling the medal tally in Sochi but Lizzy Yarnold should put that right today.

Making predictions at the Winter Olympics is a dangerous business but Yarnold couldn't be in a better position heading into the final two runs of the women's skeleton.

She arrived in Sochi as the hottest British favourite at these Games since Torvill and Dean, who by a twist of fate performed their straight sixes Bolero routine 30 years ago today.

The 25-year-old has dominated the World Cup season, making the podium in seven out of eight races and winning gold on four occasions.

She has been consistently the quickest in almost every practice session in Sochi and was fastest again in both the opening runs, meaning she will take a massive 0.44 second advantage into the third and fourth over American Noelle Pikus-Pace.

Four years ago Amy Williams took a 0.30 second advantage into the concluding runs and Yarnold will now look to follow her landlady's lead - and secure Great Britain's fourth consecutive Olympic skeleton medal today.

"I don't feel the pressure, I've not been thinking about other peoples expectations because I've got such high expectations of myself anyway," said Yarnold.

"You will never have a perfect run because it happens so fast, you just need to react to it. I've been trying lots of different things in training and I've brought that through into competition.

"The first and second run are the fastest I've ever gone. It's as good as it gets really."

You couldn't get more different athletes than the intense Yarnold and the laidback James Woods, who battled through the pain barrier only for his only reward to be a battered and bruised body.

However, Woods had no complaints after claiming fifth behind his 'four best mates' - in the ski slopestyle final at Rosa Khutor.

It soon became clear that he and coach Pat Sharples had been playing down the hip injury picked up in training last week, which he later claimed would have forced him to withdraw from any other competition.

Joss Christensen took gold ahead of American teammates Gus Kenworthy and Nick Goepper while Woods, 22, recorded runs of 86.60 and 78.40, well down on his personal best, and was pipped to fourth by Norway's Andreas Haatveit.

It means Great Britain's best record in the four slopestyle across ski and snowboarding reads sixth, third, seventh and fifth - unprecedented success on snow at the Winter Olympics.

"It's always a little disappointing when you can't perform at your best, but I'm very proud to be here in such an immense final," said Woods, now Britain's most successful male Olympian on the white stuff.

"Any other occasion I wouldn't be near my skis so I cannot be unhappy with this - it's the world stage. Fifth in the Olympics, with four of my best mates in front of me, it is great."

Woods has certainly been embracing the Olympic experience in Sochi, where slopestyle has proved an instant hit, rewarding the decision to admit it to these Games.

"There were certainly a couple of times where I thought 'I'm not sure I can carry on'," he added.

"But the doctors, the physios, my coach Pat and everyone back in the UK have been so behind me, it'd have been pretty rubbish for me to wuss out now."

Woods though insists he'll be back - and believes the youthful British team could be ready to dominate in four years time with Katie Summerhayes, Jamie Nicholls and Rowan Cheshire all in their late teens and early 20s.

"I know the Olympic ideal is about coming here and taking part but we'd all like to see a little bit of hardware," he added.

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