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Christie denied silver in chaotic speedskate final

ESPN staff
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Elise Christie was judged to have caused the collision with Arianna Fontana © Getty Images
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Elise Christie was disqualified from the women's 500m speedskate short track final as chaos descended on the Iceberg Skating Palace in Sochi.

The Scot, 23, collided with Italy's Arianna Fontana and South Korea's Park Seung-hi early in the race, allowing China's Li Jianrou to cruise to the gold medal.

Christie recovered first to cross the line for silver, but was penalised at the end of the race after she was judged to have caused the collision while attempting to overtake on the inside of the straight.

She failed to make her move in time and tangled with Fontana as she tried to correct her error. Park then collided with the pair as they fell by the wayside.

The DQ meant Christie was demoted to eighth, below the four 'B' finalists, while Fontana was awarded silver ahead of Park in the bronze medal position.

"I didn't think it would be me [who would be penalised]," Christie, holding back the tears, told BBC Sport.

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"I had the speed so I moved up, but I was hit on the foot and then hit everyone else. I used my instinct and went for it. Now I am regretting it. But you have to respect the decision."

Christie will now have a few days to get her head straight before her preferred event - the 1,000m.

She added: "I was really relaxed as it was not my major event," she said. "I will use the next day to get my head back together."

Elsewhere, Lizzy Yarnold is in pole position for gold going into the final of the skeleton.

Yarnold, the World Cup leader, topped the standings in both runs after clocking 58.43 seconds and 58.46 seconds for a combined time of 1:56:89. The 25-year-old leads Noelle Pikus-Pace by 0.44 seconds.

British team-mate Shelley Rudman, a silver medallist in 2006, ended the first day in 11th with times of 59.46 and 59.33 seconds to trail by 1.90 seconds.

Yarnold, whose starting times were 4.95 and 4.97 seconds, said she was so excited to get started she was unable to sleep.

She said: "I was twisting and turning in my bed. I was so ready for it."

Earlier in the day, James Woods missed out on Britain's second freestyle medal of the Winter Olympics after finishing fifth in the ski slopestyle event.

The 22-year-old, from Sheffied, recorded his best score of 86.60 in the first run, but it was not enough to prevent a US 1-2-3 as Joss Christensen, Gus Kenworthy and Nick Goepper took gold, silver and bronze respectively.

Woods said: "I am incredibly proud to be here. It is always a bit disappointing when you do not perform to your best, but it was an immense final."

Struggling with a hip injury, he admitted he would not have competed had it not been an Olympic Games.

"I can do triples [in normal circumstances], I have got them. On any other occasion I would not be near my skis and boots.

"Potential is something that can be great or can cut you deep. I cannot be unhappy with this - it is the world stage.

"Fifth in the Olympics, with four of my best mates in front of me, it is great."

Meanwhile, Great Britain's women's curling team are still in contention to qualify for the semi-finals after an 8-7 round-robin win over China.

Captain Eve Muirhead, who missed a high-risk shot to hand Canada victory on Wednesday, made amends to clinch victory with her final stone.

It means the team are now joint fifth in the women's pool.

"I'm really glad I managed to play a great shot to finish," said Muirhead. "I am just really glad we came back with a strong performance.

"It was always going to be a tight match as China are a top, top team. I felt good out there. Myself and the girls stepped it up. We got a good solid performance, which will really lift us."

Shortly after, the men's curling team earned their fourth win in five as they overcame the United States 5-3 to move into a tie for second in the group standings.

Skipper David Murdoch said: "That was just a commanding performance and I think we really dominated them from start to finish. We were aggressive in the first five ends, got our lead and were clinical after that.

"We are drawing really well and were getting our rocks in perfect spots and causing them all sorts of trouble. There was some great shot-making today."

James Woods finished fifth in the freestyle ski final © Getty Images
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