It happened, unbelievably, again.
At this point in Elise Christie’s otherwise brilliant career as a short track speed skater, she is known more for her proclivity for falls and disqualifications in the Winter Olympics than her records and world championship. On Tuesday in Gangneung, Great Britain’s speed skater did it again. Twice, actually.
Prior to reaching the first turn in her heat in the 1,000-meter qualifying round, Christie’s skate collided with a competitor’s, sending her sliding into the walls. Fortunately for Christie, because the spill happened so early in the race, a restart was required. But as the gun sounded, signaling the start of the second attempt, it was clear that Christie’s ankle wasn’t 100 percent. She lagged behind, slowly building her speed, until she surged back to second, a qualifying position, where she remained until crossing the finish line.
For a moment, it seemed as if her devastating run of bad luck, which dates back to the 2014 Olympic Games — she was disqualified in the 500m finals, accused by South Korea of intentionally causing Park Seung-Hi to crash, disqualified out of the 1,500m, and again in the 1,000 after colliding with China’s Jianrou Li in the final turn of the semifinal — was over.
Three events, three DQs.
In 2018, however, it seemed as if Christie had left it behind. She set an Olympic record in the qualifying round of the 500 and then did it again in the quarterfinals. And then came the final, when her hand was clipped by Dutch skater Yara van Kerkhof. Christie found the walls, Kerkhof found the podium.
The 1,500 was more of the same: Christie finishing first in her qualifying heat, only to crash out of the semifinals after a collision with Li Jinyu, after which she was taken to the hospital for an injury to her ankle.
On Tuesday, Christie was again a favorite, and in spite of a balky ankle and damaged hand, she took second in her heat. She was moving on. Until she wasn’t.
Officials divvied out a yellow card to Christie, disqualifying her from the race, making it six straight Olympic events that Christie has either been disqualified from or crashed out of.
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