Elise Christie made history at the ISU Short Track Speed Skating World Championship in Rotterdam this weekend. She will return to the UK as the overall World Champion having won the 1000m and 1500m titles, a feat that has never been achieved by a British woman before.
It is the first time a non-Asian skater has won the title since 1994, and makes Great Britain one of only six nations to win the ladies overall title.
Christie took the 1500m gold yesterday, the longer distance that she hadn’t raced in for a year, beating Marianne St Gelais (Canada) and Suk Hee Shim (Korea), in 2:36.558m, over a second between Elise and her competition.
Attributing her success to a change in tactics, Elise said: “This year I have really changed my mindset, it was win or lose. I risked losing to win, taking each distance one at a time this weekend.
“I have been physically capable for a long time, and I have shown I am mentally ready now.”
Despite her all or nothing strategy not paying off in the 500m, the distance in which Elise holds the current world record, it was that mindset that produced spectacular skating in the 1000m today to take her second title of the competition and ultimately become overall champion.
After a relatively straight forward quarter final, Elise drew on her power, confidence and experience to finish first in her semi final, accelerating away from her Korean competitors.
The final was a tight race again until Elise created space at the front to beat Marianne St Gelais and Suzanne Schulting in 1:30.818m. The 1000m was the event Elise had her sights on at the start of the event, and took confidence from winning the 1500m.
Elise said: “I was mainly focused on the 1000m, so winning the 1500m was a bonus for me, as I haven’t raced that distance in so long. I don’t think my competitors would have expected that either.”
After the 1000m final, Christie was tied in overall first position with St Gelais, and it was the 3000m Super Final which determined the title, going to Christie who finished 3rd ahead of St Gelais in 4th.
“I am ecstatic. The overall title wasn’t in my mind at the beginning. Staying back while the European Championships was happening in January paid off, I stayed in Nottingham and trained with recently retired Richard Shoebridge.
I worked hard and got a lot of laps in which definitely helped in the longer distances this weekend.” said the new World Champion.
St Gelais finished 2nd overall in the ladies with Suk Hee Shim of Korea in 3rd. Yi Ra Seo of Korea won the overall men’s title.
Now, less than a year away from the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, the GB team will complete this season with the British Championships on 1st and 2nd April 2017 at the National Ice Centre in Nottingham, before training commences for the Olympic year. Elise added: “I am also happy I got to skate the world cup at the Gangneung Arena in Korea, the Olympic venue next year, it was good for me to experience the ice and atmosphere, the home crowd were just awesome, it was an amazing turnout and I can’t wait to be back there.
“A couple of years ago I was enjoying racing but wasn’t ready to think about going to the Olympics, now I am really excited and hoping to go out and win.”
Stewart Laing, Performance Director at GB Short Track Speed Skating said: “What Elise has achieved is extremely significant in the sport of short track for Great Britain. It follows years of dedication from Elise as an athlete, as well as the coaching and support team behind her.
“We are extremely proud of Elise and everything she has achieved this season, she has exceeded our expectations with the world record, multiple world cup medals and now the pinnacle, the World Championships.
“We now look forward to 2018, where we can put the practices into place for PyeongChang. This has always been the aim of the programme, as a stepping stone to Olympic success.”