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Christie 'gobsmacked' by second Sochi penalty

ESPN staff
February 15, 2014 « Yarnold proud of achieving Sochi dream | Chartbeat test »
Elise Christie was also denied silver in the 500m final after receiving a penalty © Getty Images
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Britain's Elise Christie was left "gobsmacked" after being forced out of the short track 1500m in the qualifying heats when she received a penalty for the second time at the Sochi Winter Olympics.

Christie finished first but was knocked back to sixth place by the judges after skating inside the final marker before the line. Only the top three go through to the semi-finals.

On Thursday, Christie was penalised in the 500m final, where she had finished second.

Christie passed Arianna Fontana with a burst of speed in the final straight but skated wide of the finish line marked on the ice. She was therefore classed as not crossing it, and left visibly upset.

Following the heat, Christie - who's main event is the 1000m - told BBC Sport: "I have found it hard, but it is not always about medals. I have to keep pushing through.

"I was heading out to watch my team-mate race, then I saw I had got a penalty. I had no physical contact with anyone, so I have no idea what I was penalised for.

"I was playing safe after the 500m final by trying not to be near anyone. I am gobsmacked - I expected the decision the other day, but not now.

"I need to find a reason to respect the referee's decision. At the moment, I have no idea what is going on."

Christie also revealed she closed her Twitter account after Thursday's penalty in the 500m final.

"I have had to deal with abuse on the internet as well," Christie added. "So, I have found it hard. I have had a few people threatening me, cyber bullying basically."

Lizzy Yarnold collected her gold medal on Saturday © Getty Images
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Her coach Nicky Gooch said: "The referee has said Elise didn't cross the line. She has crossed inside the finish line and he has ruled that that is off-track.

"Therefore he is saying she hasn't finished the race. She [has] done nothing wrong in the race, tried to make sure she was nowhere near Arianna and get her on the line, but the referee has called off-track.

"It has been called before but not something that normally happens. I was shocked. I looked at the video and you are talking centimetres."

Performance director Stuart Horsepool said: "We are talking about the smallest margin ever. There is nothing we can do. She won the race, we are absolutely devastated. She was trying to win the race, she was lunging for the line. She was making sure she was safe and she went what we are talking millimetres. These things happen in sport and there is no accounting for it.

"Luck doesn't even come into it. We have to pick ourselves up and come back on Tuesday and hopefully we can have good luck instead of all this horrendous back luck."

Dom Parsons and Kristan Bromley secured top ten finishes in the men's skeleton, while Lizzy Yarnold collected her gold medal for winning the women's event on Saturday.

Elsewhere, Team GB's women's curling team secured a third straight victory in the round-robin stage, edging South Korea 10-8, before losing 8-6 to Switzerland later on Saturday.

But the men's curling team suffered their second defeat but remain in a strong position to qualify for the semi-finals. They went down 7-5 to Canada on Saturday, leaving them joint third in the standings with two games left.

Meanwhile, Russian ski cross racer Maria Komissarova has undergone surgery after breaking her spine during training.

The 23-year-old suffered a fractured vertebrae with a dislocation and was taken to a hospital close to Rosa Khutor Extreme Park where she underwent an emergency six-and-a-half hour operation.

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