SHE’s always been known for her ice-cool determination. And former coaches today tipped Livingston speed skater Elise Christie to bounce back from her Sochi disappointment as she prepares to mount her last attempt at Winter Olympics glory.
They spoke as we can reveal a picture taken by the Evening News showing a 12-year-old Elise still unsure whether to opt for figure skating or ice skating as her main sport.
Her former trainers said the one thing they remembered about the twice disqualified star as a teen was her commitment to keep going – a quality they hope will stand her in good stead despite her bad luck so far. One of the first to spot the now 23-year-old’s potential as a figure skater was coach Diane Dewar, of Broxburn.
Ms Dewar, who has also coached Mark Hanretty of Dancing on Ice fame, said: “You could see that she was very talented from the word go. She was willing to try anything and also had the determination to keep on practising something until she got it right.”
Elise took up speed skating when she was around 12, and continued to excel in both sports before having to make a choice at the age of 15.
“Obviously I was disappointed to lose her,” said Ms Dewar, “but she made the right decision. Elise was an excellent figure skater, but I could see her going all the way to the Olympics in speed skating. I’ve been so proud watching her, despite her disappointments.”
Christie’s first speed coach was Archie Marshall, former vice-chairman of Sk8scotland, who has competed and coached for Great Britain at five Olympics and 22 world championships. He said: “Elise was 12 when I first started coaching her and her incredible enthusiasm and great natural talent immediately stood out, especially considering you had to take what you could get equipment-wise – her boots were a few sizes too big and she had to use extremely long blades! I really feel she’s been the victim of some bad decisions in Sochi. Even the commentators have been saying she’s the best skater competing.”
Former Olympic short track skater Jo Eley, who is now the Great Britain national short track development coach, was a member of the senior squad when Elise was on the national junior team. “She was always a good little skater,” she said of the blonde fighter who is also having to prove her mental toughness away from the ice rink.
It was revealed at the weekend that Elise was threatened by internet trolls following her disqualification from the final of the 500 metres event and the 1500 metres on Saturday.
She was due to compete this morning for a place in Friday’s 1000 metres short track finals.