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After a week to forget, Christie can smile at last
10:42am Wednesday 19th February 2014 in Sport
ELISE CHRISTIE has a tattoo on her wrist that says simply, dream. And the dream ending to a nightmare Olympics is still on.
Short track speed skater Christie progressed to the quarter-finals of the 1000m – her principal target at these Games – with a brilliant qualifying performance that had even rival coaches murmuring their appreciation.
But after a week to forget that saw her fall victim to bullying on Twitter and her sport’s prickly judges, Christie was happy just to avoid any more dramas.
“I’ve had a few days feeling quite down and I was pretty emotional,” she admitted.
“I didn’t train very well this week but when I stepped on the ice I was ready to go and felt very confident.
“I did briefly think about pulling out but I would never do that. I’ve got that grit in me that keeps me wanting to carry on but I was feeling pretty low, the lowest I have in my career.
“I was told about all the support back home and I smiled for the first time in a while.
When I considered not getting back on the ice, the support I’ve had pushed me to get back on.
“I know disqualifications come with short track but I felt I had a lot of people against me last week. But that’s all gone now and I know I’ve got the whole of Britain behind me and everything is wiped now.”
This season Christie has struggled as her preferred tactics to lead from the front have been worked out by rivals frustrated by the form she showed last year.
So, just as encouraging as her win and improving mental confidence was the manner of her victory, Christie biding her time at the back of the field and then catching her rivals napping by striking for the front three laps from home.
“My coach wanted me just to enjoy it and get the love back for skating,” she added.
“He told me to use my instincts so I decided to sit at the back and then go clear at the end.”
Elsewhere, forget the stone of destiny, David Murdoch produced the shot of a lifetime to secure a place in the Olympic curling semi-finals and a clash with Sweden.
It’s usually the snowboarders here in Sochi that talk about ‘going hard or going home’ but Murdoch has clearly been listening and was certainly ‘stoked’ to produce the goods under the most extreme pressure.
Team-mate Greg Drummond described his final end, final stone double take- out – which secured a 6-5 victory over Thomas Ulsrud’s Norway – as a ‘one in 50 shot’ and Murdoch admitted the odds were certainly stacked against him.
Canadian rival Brad Jacobs had criticised the former double world champion for being ‘too defensive’ in the build-up to the Olympics but the British skip insisted there was no point to prove.
Indeed he claimed it was a shot to nothing, insisting the odds of pulling it off were as slim as the odds of winning the match had they settled for a single and given Norway the final stone advantage in the resulting extra end.
“We’ve had World Championship wins but when it’s the Olympics and you’ve been here before and never quite done it and that shot gets you into the semi-finals, I think that has to rank number one,” said Murdoch, when asked to assess the shot’s importance in his career.
“It will certainly go up there as one of my best shots ever. I just had to trust myself and have the courage to go for it.
“We never think about failure as a team, we only think about winning. It’s a shot you don’t make very often but we were confident.
“We’ve played these guys 100 times and knew the chances of stealing a point in the extra end were slim.
“As hard as the shot was we just had to go for it. There was no margin for error, you couldn’t be an inch wide.”
Meanwhile, British team officials confirmed the inevitable yesterday when they announced that 18-year old women’s ski half-pipe hopeful Rowan Cheshire, who was concussed in training three days ago, would not take part in today’s event.
Cheshire, a recent World Cup winner ranked seventh in the world, returns from the Olympics with only cuts and bruises and a burning determination that four years from now will be her time.
“After experiencing what it is like to be at an Olympic Games I am determined to be back in four years time and be up there competing for an Olympic medal,” she said ‘I am hugely disappointed I won’t be able to compete. I felt as though I was coming into my best form of the season and had my tricks nailed.”
Team-mates Scot Murray Buchan and James Machon didn’t progress through qualifying in the men’s ski halfpipe, finishing 17th and 23rd respectively as conditions – snow was finally spotted up in the mountains near Rosa Khutor – made life difficult.
Elsewhere, Great Britain’s women’s bobsleigh team of pilot Paula Walker and brakewoman Rebekah Wilson will look to push into the top ten on today’s concluding runs, ranking 12th at the competition’s halfway stage.
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