Short track speed skater Elise Christie will next week step up her preparations for Sochi’s Winter Olympics by travelling in advance of 5000 miles to represent Team GB in the ISU World Cup series in East Asia.
With the pendulum now well and truly in motion ahead of the Russian city’s winter sports Games, which get under way in February, athletes are in the midst of perfecting starts, coordination, speed or whatever else their respective events demand in a bid to deliver success.
Christie will travel to Shanghai in China before the second event in Seoul, South Korea, with a view to making good practice of her time on the ice before the Olympic qualifiers in November.
However, the 23-year-old from Livingston, who resides in Nottingham and trains full-time at the National Ice Centre ther, revealed she has been selected to skate in all four disciplines – 500 metres, 1000m, 1500m and 3000m relay.
“I’m working on some different tactics and different ways to how I race,” Christie explained. “I’m going to have a pretty tough time at the World Cup and the Olympic qualifiers, as I am competing in every distance going.
“Most of my opponents will only be doing two distances, but I think it will be a good challenge because the more racing I do, the easier the Olympics will be.
“I got a bit ahead of myself with the goals I set because I was winning more than the occasional medal and had become fairly consistent. However, this season I am going to take a step back and try and improve on my weaknesses, because when you get to the Olympics, it is only one race, and you’ve only got that one chance.”
Christie has, of course, yet to confirm her place as a Team GB starter. But she is considered a hot prospect who could very well return home from Russia early next year with at least one medal, her preferred distance of 1000m offering a more favourable opportunity. In addition, Great Britain are also set to make history by fielding a short track women’s relay team at the Olympics should they seal qualification for the event.
Christie said: “I’m definitely aiming for the three distances individually and we’re hoping to get all the girls there for the relay. It’s going to be hard because we’ve got a very young team – one will have only just turned 18 by the Olympics – but we’re hopeful and we’ll give it our best shot.
“It would be amazing to compete for Great Britain’s first-ever girls’ relay team so it would feel pretty special and go down in the history books.
“It is getting exciting and I think this will increase when I start racing at the World Cup. I’m looking forward to not experiencing the Games (Christie competed at Vancouver in 2010 aged 19) as a first-timer and getting out there to see what I can do.
“Medals are something I dream of and is the reason I train every day, but speed skating is so unpredictable so I can’t say I am going to win a medal, but I do think about it and it’s what I want.”
Christie’s promise has been acknowledged by TV giants Sky Sports after being recently announced as one of 12 athletes to be offered a scholarship – a timely boost ahead of the most critical period in her skating career to date, an opening she intends to make the most of.
She said: “They (Sky Sports) actually took a bit of an interest in me and came and scouted me out. They were really interested in trying to get a Winter Olympian so we had to go to London and have a chat with the head of the scholarship programme. I then had an interview, but they let me know not long after that I had been successful.
“I hadn’t really told anyone because it wasn’t being officially announced until the end of August, so I had to keep it a secret – my coach knew as he had been liaising with them and my mum, but that was about it. Everyone is really happy for me now it’s out in the open.”