Day one of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games sees Elise Christie star in the short track 500m heats, an Olympic best result for Amanda Lightfoot in the biathlon while five athletes make their Games debuts.
- Elise Christie qualifies for 500m quarter-finals, setting a new Olympic record in the process
- Amanda Lightfoot matches Emma Fowler’s best Olympic finish for a female British biathlete
- All three Team GB male snowboarders fail to reach slopestyle final
- Cross-country skier Annika Taylor finishes 60th on her Olympic debut
- Adam Rosen and Rupert Staudinger sit 24th and 33rd respectively at the halfway stage of the luge
Short Track Speed Skating
Elise Christie powered to a new Olympic record – and promised the best is yet to come.
Christie won three world titles last year but the 500m, her first event here in PyeongChang, was not one of them.
However, she took the race on, getting in front of her rivals early and staying out of trouble. She clocked 42.872 seconds, the quickest time at the Winter Olympics for eight years, before Korean rival Minjeong Choi fractionally bettered it moments later.
It ensured she progresses to Tuesday’s decisive medal races, with three knockout rounds between her and the chance to avenge a forgettable last Olympic experience.
“Racing hasn’t gone well recently because of injuries so I wanted to put a statement out there to say ‘I’m back.’ I think I’ve showed them that,” said Christie.
“I was so nervous before the race, it was like an Olympic final. I don’t think I’ve been as nervous as that for about six years.
“This is the first time most of the British public have seen me since Sochi and I obviously have small fears of that happening again, so I think it was all related to that.
“It’s just a relief and now I feel ready to focus on actually doing the skating and getting the job done.”
Christie isn’t even trying to pretend this is ‘just another event’ – though she remains determined not to be crippled by the weight of expectation.
“As much as winning a gold, my goal at this Olympics is to enjoy it because I didn’t get to enjoy the last one,” she added.
“If I do retire after this, which I’m not saying I will, I don’t know, I want to have a good memory about the Olympics either way.”
However, there was disappointment for teammates Charlotte Gilmartin, Kathryn Thomson and Farrell Treacy who all countered Christie’s thrills with their own spills.
Thomson and Treacy are both targeting other distances while Gilmartin, who picked up a bruised rib for her tumbles, insists she’ll continue to push it.
“I’m going good, I’ve got speed, and I’m ready to go again,” she said. “I won’t change the way I skate for the 1500m. Up until the crash I was feeling great, I had good speed. There’s no injury problems, I’ve got a bit of a bruised rib but my legs are fine and nothing can stop me. I’m ready to race.”
There were mixed emotions for Amanda Lightfoot as she equalled the best-ever Olympic result for a British female biathlete in the 7.5km sprint but just missed out on qualification for the women’s 10km pursuit in the process.
Lightfoot, competing at her second Games, did her best to combat the strong winds at the Alpensia Biathlon Centre.
But three shooting penalties – two prone and one standing – left her with an anxious wait to see if her time of 24:15.3 would be enough to keep her in the top 60 places for the pursuit.
In the end it was not, as other competitors finishing after her bettered her time but she still finished 67th, matching the achievement of Emma Fowler, also in the 7.5km sprint at Turin 2006.
It proved to be a tricky day for Team GB’s male snowboarders in slopestyle qualifying.
Jamie Nicholls had the honour of being the first British athlete to compete in PyeongChang but a fall on his second run meant he was unable to improve on his opening score of 71.56 and missed out on qualifying for the final as one of the top six athletes in his heat.
Billy Morgan also came unstuck, posting a best score of 56.40 after falling during his runs, and finished his heat in tenth.
Rowan Coultas ranked 18th on his Games debut with a score of 23.58 after also taking a tumble on the course.
All three will be back in action in the big air competition on Wednesday 21.
Team GB’s sole female cross-country skier Annika Taylor made her Olympic debut on Saturday in the women’s skiathlon.
Charlotte Kalla took the title for Sweden, taking the honour of becoming the first gold medallist in PyeongChang, with Taylor meanwhile finishing 60th in a time of 48:09.01.
AJ Rosen and Rupert Staudinger began their Olympic luge campaigns with the first two of four runs.
Three-time Olympian Rosen was the fastest of the two and lies in 24th after clocking a combined time of 1:36.887, while debutant Staudinger is just under two seconds slower down in 33rd place.
Two-time reigning champion Felix Loch is well poised to make it a hat-trick of wins after setting a track record and building up a 0.188 second lead at the half-way stage.
Aimee Fuller will look to progress to Monday’s women’s snowboard slopestyle in qualifying at the Phoenix Snow Park, which starts at 1.30pm (4.30am UK time).
Andrew Musgrave, Andrew Young and Callum Smith go in the skiathlon at 3.15pm (6.15am) and AJ Rosen and Rupert Staudinger complete their final runs in the luge at 6.50pm (9.50am).
Report courtesy of the BOA