Hucknall speed-skater Christie is dubbed the unluckiest Olympian

CHRISTIE CRASHES -- the fall that led to a hat-trick of disqualifications at the Winter Olympics for Elise Christie (in white). (PHOTO BY: David Davies/PA Wire)
CHRISTIE CRASHES -- the fall that led to a hat-trick of disqualifications at the Winter Olympics for Elise Christie (in white). (PHOTO BY: David Davies/PA Wire)

Speed-skating duo Elise Christie and Jack Whelbourne headed back to their Hucknall home this week, still bewildered by the array of bad fortune they endured at the Winter Olympics.

Dogged by crashes, controversy and disqualifications, Christie and her boyfriend Whelbourne saw their Sochi dreams transformed into a bizarre version of Russian roulette.

Heartbroken Christie was even dubbed the unluckiest Olympian in history by one national newspaper.

And few could disagree after she fell for a second time and was thrown out by the judges for a third time in her final event last weekend.

Christie, the reigning European champion, was widely tipped for a medal in the 1,000m, which is her strongest event.

And after breezing to victory in her heat with a scintillating turn of foot, she looked to be in top form when also winning her quarter-final with a speedy sweep round the outside.

But the prospect of gold turned to dust in a calamitous semi-final when she was sent sprawling across the ice in a collision with Chinese rival Li Jianrou after trying to burst up the inside.

To her amazement, both skaters were disqualified. And to make matters worse, the gold medal in the final was won by Korean Seung-Hi Park.

The same Park whom she had beaten for the first time in the quarters. And the same Park with whom she had also collided in the final of the 500m earlier in the Games.

That crash led to another disqualification, robbing her of a silver medal,and also led to Twitter abuse for Christie from Koreans angry that she had denied their girl a gold medal.

Said a tearful Chrstie: “I had never beaten Park, never mind skated outside of her like that.

“I did overtakes I’d never managed before. Every single person in that final I’d beaten. I can’t even describe how gutted I am that I couldn’t even have the chance to try.

“Never in 100 years did I think I’d be disqualified for that. They say I pushed her over. But the problem in short-track is that every referee has a different opinion.

“I will always accept the referee’s opinion, but I don’t agree with it. I’m pretty sure I was in front and I was pushed from behind off the back of my skates.”

The decision completed an unprecedented hat-trick of disqualifications in Sochi for Christie, who was also penalised for skating inside the finish line in the 1,500m heats.

“I’m finding it really tough,” she admitted. “I’m trying to hold myself together. But I am very confused and heartbroken.”

Christie was consoled by the 22-year-old Whelbourne, with whom she moved into a new house in Hucknall just before Christmas.

But he too was recovering from his own personal disappointments in the three men’s short-track events.

Whelbourne, who hails from Lenton, became the first Briton ever to qualify for the 1,500m final -- only to crash and sustain an ankle injury that hampered his efforts in the 500m and 1,000m where he failed to make it through the heats.

Now the duo must dust themselves down and prepare for the world championships, which start in Montreal, Canada in only two weeks’ time.

Elise won a 1,000m bronze medal at last year’s worlds. So it’s back to training at the National Ice Centre in Nottingham, where the duo first met after Elise came down from Scotland as a tiny 15-year-old to boost her career with the British squad.

Unless they’ve run over a black cat since their move to Hucknall (!), surely their luck must change.