Elise Christie falls in 500m Olympic speed skating final
Elise Christie's bid to exorcise the misery of Sochi 2014 ended in yet more devastation on Tuesday as she crashed out of the 500m final.
The three-time world champion twice broke the Olympic record on her way to a five-way shootout but after a slow start left her in fourth place she attempted a guts-or-glory push down the inside at the start of the final lap. The 27-year-old lost her footing on her way through and flew across the ice into a barrier.
It is agony for Christie, who was disqualified in all three of her disciplines four years ago and was subjected to death threats by South Korean fans for wiping out their home hope in that 500m final.
Elise Christie has suffered renewed Olympic heartbreak after falling in the 500m final
Trapped down in fourth place, Christie attempted to overtake on the last lap but crashed out
Christie was left in tears after failing to exorcise the demons of her Sochi 2014 nightmare
This one was far less eventful, but the regret will be the sluggish start that left her needing to take desperate measures.
She was eventually upgraded to fourth after Minjeong Choi was given a penalty. Arianna Fontana took gold in a photo finish from Yara van Kerkhof and Kim Boutin. It means Team GB’s wait for a first medal at these Winter Olympics continues.
Christie’s evening had started in perfect fashion, with the Scot recovering from second place after one lap of her quarter-final to win with an Olympic record of 42.703. The three in her wake all wiped out one another as they approached the finish, which was a reminder of sorts that calamity and jeopardy lurk on every bend of this bonkers format.
The three-time world champion twice broke the Olympic record on her way to the shootout
It truly is a distance and discipline built for carnage, and that was played out in the other quarter-finals. Most notably, world No 1 Marianne St Gelais of Canada went out with a penalty, and there was so very nearly an elimination for seven-time world champion Choi.
With barely a lap of her quarter-final remaining, the South Korean was third and boxed in – a hopeless situation when only two progress - but she got free and lived to fight another round via a photo finish.
Christie’s rivalry with Choi has blossomed in a fascinating way over the past few days. In order, the Scot broke the Olympic record in the heats on Saturday, Choi lowered it just eight minutes later, and then Christie got it back in her quarter here. Early days, but that already had them pegged as the prime favourites in the field.
They were kept apart in the semi-final, though, with Christie drawn alongside Canada's Kim Boutin, Qu Chunyu of China and Holland’s Yara van Kerkhof, the world No 4.
Angela Wright, mother of Elise Christie, appears dejected after her daughter's crash
Choi had a tougher deal, going in with 10-time world champion Fan Kexin of China, as well as five-time Olympic medallist Arianna Fontana and the Russian Sofia Prosvirnova. She won a frantic race, reclaiming the Olympic record in the process, and was joined in the final by Fontana.
Christie went through in second place after losing a photo finish to Van Kerkhof. It was her least convincing race of the competition to date, hindered by a sluggish start and a messy race.
The challenge in the final was complicated by Boutin being added to the field on account of being unfairly knocked over in the semi by Qu.
A five-woman scrap on a small sheet of ice. What could go wrong? A lot, as it happened.
Italy's Arianna Fontana took gold in a photo finish from Yara van Kerkhof and Kim Boutin