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Saturday February 22, 2014 MYT 3:02:01 AM
Saturday February 22, 2014 MYT 3:02:55 AM
by patrick johnston
SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - A week of tears and trolls ended in more disappointment for British short track skater Elise Christie as she completed a hat-trick of disqualifications by collecting a penalty in the women's 1,000 metres semi-finals on Friday.
The 23-year-old crashed after being knocked by China's Li Jianrou on the final bend of the second semi at the Iceberg Skating Palace as South Korean Shim Suk-hee and Fan Kexin of China advanced to the final.
Christie was also involved in a coming together with Li earlier on the final lap when a marker was moved, when the Briton looked the aggressor. Li and Christie were both hit with a penalty.
"They said that I pushed her over. The problem with short track is that every referee has a different opinion," Christie told reporters.
"I will always accept the referee's position but I don't agree with it.
"I want to talk it through with the officials so I can move on. I can't believe it's happened again."
After two disqualifications in earlier races, Christie had skated a cautious race at the back of the quartet on Friday before driving into position over the closing two laps and looking set for the final, only to see her chances of a medal slide away into barriers.
"I thought I'd save my energy for the last few laps. I saw they went wide so I went inside, I pulled tight the next corner," the Briton told the BBC.
"Honest to God, I'm pretty sure she hit me from behind.
"I got disqualified today for the opposite reason to what I got disqualified for in the 500m. Every single member of Team GB is astonished."
The disqualification capped a frustrating Games for Christie, who was besieged by angry Korean fans on Twitter after she was blamed for crashing in to Park Seung-hi in the 500m eight days ago.
Christie collided with Park and Italian Arianna Fontana on the first corner of the final before getting up to finish second, only for the judges to demote her to eighth after deciding she was responsible for the crash.
On Saturday, Christie finished first in her 1,500m heat only for the judges to rule against her again when they deemed she had not completed the race because she veered too far inside the track and did not cross the actual finish line.
The Internet trolls had caused online misery, but the tears were shed on the public short rink. More looked likely to come after Friday's latest heartache.
"I'm devastated as I've spent so much time training. I hadn't even given everything yet as I was waiting for the final," Christie added after seeing Park win the 1,000m final.
"I don't understand how you can penalise two people. They should try and have the same referee all year for consistency.
"I'm really trying to hold myself together right now."
Compatriot Jon Eley predicted Christie would bounce back in spectacular style at the next Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
"It's upsetting for the team but this will make her a lot stronger," he told the BBC after missing out on the medals in the men's 500m.
"She has had some unlucky times but she is a great racer and I think she will come back in four years time and win the gold medal."
(Editing by Mitch Phillips)
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