Heartbroken Elise vows to win gold in Beijing
Elise Christie crashed and burned in spectacular fashion in Pyeongchang yesterday after a first-bend crash and what was effectively a double disqualification, but she insisted her Olympic dream is far from over.
The 27-year-old's desperate bid to make the start-line for her final and favoured 1000m event back-fired when a trip-up in the opening strides of her heat sent her flailing to the ice and re-aggravated the ankle ligaments she had torn in her equally distressing 1500m exit on Saturday.
Clearly in some degree of discomfort and in no real position to continue to compete, Christie nevertheless dragged herself back to the line in time to benefit from the short track rule which stipulates that first-corner crashes must lead to a re-start.
Unable to put any real pressure on her injured ankle, Christie set off behind her three rivals but still battled through to cross the line in a qualifying position of second, only to be given a yellow card from the race jury - indicating not one but two fouls - and eliminated from the Games.
"It's been such a tough two days to turn this around, I've got ligament damage and my ankle has doubled in size," said Christie. "I gave it my best shot and I obviously had a crash at the start.
"I hit my ankle and at that point I thought, 'oh no, that's over, I'm not going to be able to race now'. I can't describe the pain I was in.
"But I was given a moment to stand there and I was thinking about everyone watching back home. I just felt I should give it a go for them."
Yet even in the immediate aftermath of another Olympics calamity, Christie committed herself to a fourth shot at the Games in Beijing in four years' time, maintaining nothing that happened in Pyeongchang would dissuade her from pursuing that golden career goal.
"For all the success I've had, I can't let this define me. I can't even count on two hands how many gold medals I've won since Sochi. I'm the world record holder," she said.
"That's why I'll be back in Beijing (in 2022). I'm going to get myself so strong that I'll get out in front and get away from everyone and that will be the focus now."
Christie's participation in her third and final event had been in doubt until moments before the start, but she battled gamely to make the most of her second chance despite being uncharacteristically forced to fight from the rear.
On her way through she had what appeared to be minor skirmishes with Holland's Lara van Ruijven and Hungary's Andrea Keszler before barging across the line, but there was an air of inevitability during the few minutes before the judges' verdict - and Christie's latest disqualification - was confirmed.
Christie had come to Pyeongchang as a triple world champion desperate to atone for a nightmare series of events in Sochi four years ago when she was disqualified from all three of her races. But her experience in Pyeongchang was destined to become even worse.
Knocked down in her 500m final on the opening Saturday, Christie re-focused on the 1500m which ended in her sliding calamitously into the barriers on the final bend of her semi-final.
A defiant Christie insisted she is determined not to allow a repeat of her post-Sochi turmoil, when chronic self-doubts and social media death threats had briefly threatened to turn her away from the sport for good.
"I (thought I) wasn't supposed to be an Olympic medallist, but I don't see that now," she added.