Elise Christie - Speed Skating

Hometown: Livingston, Scotland
Sport: Speed skating
Event: Short track, Speed Skating
Games: Vancouver 2010, Sochi 2014

Elise got her first taste of short track speed skating at the age of 12 and quickly took to the sport. By the age of 15 she was invited to join the GB Squad. Originally from Scotland, Elise moved to Nottingham to concentrate full-time on skating at the National Performance Centre with the rest of the Squad.

At just 22, Elise has already made a significant impact on the world stage at both Junior and Senior level. Her major achievements to date include representing Team GB at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, gold at the 2008 European Championships as part of the 3000m Relay Team and placing 3rd overall at the 2010 European Championships.

At the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Elise had high medal hopes - entering the 500m, 1000m and 1500m events with high hopes of a medal. After an unfortunate series of crashes led to penalisations in her events, Elise has come back stronger than ever. In 2017 she made history at the World Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, when she became the first British woman to win a speed skating world championship. Earlier that season in November 2016 Christie set a new world record for the 500m, clocking 42.335 seconds in the quarter final at the second World Cup meeting of the season in Salt Lake City.

The following questions were prepared by students at Knockhall Community Primary School, Kent, ahead of the Sochi 2014.

What is your greatest achievement so far?
I think being world number one is pretty amazing, and I really wasn't expecting it so that makes it even better!

Have you ever fallen over in a race?
Speed skating is a really physical sport so people fall all the time. I did fall in my 500m at the World Cup a few weeks ago. It's always disappointing to crash out because you can be going so well then before you know it you've hit the crash pads.

How old were you when you first went ice skating and who/what got you into speed skating?
I started figure skating with a friend but then a speed skating club opened at the rink I trained at. I started speed skating once a week until I was 15 and then I was invited onto the team and decided concentrate on that.

How did you feel when you represented Team GB for the first time?
I was quite nervous, but at the same time really excited.

How many hours of training do you do and is it all on the ice?
Our sessions change depending on the time of year and like if we're racing. We are on the ice every day except Sunday, usually two sessions for about two hours. Then we also do a lot of work on the bikes too, as well as weights and pre-hab/injury prevention exercises.

How do you prepare for a race?
I always have a chat to my coach before to talk about my tactics for the race, then I just try on focus on me and what I need to do.

What does your diet consist of? Do you have to eat anything in particular?
We obviously have to be quite healthy. Because I'm training a lot I try to eat a lot of complex carbs to help me keep my energy up, but I do love tapas as a treat!

What has been your most challenging race?
Every race is challenging in its own right. You're constantly have to make adjustments and react to people around you, but my last race at the Montreal World Cup was hard because I'd raced two weekends back to back and done three events so I was pretty drained physically and mentally going into it.

Have you ever wanted to compete in any other sport?
I tried figure skating but I didn't like that the judges decided who won. Speed skating is good because usually if you're first over the line, you've won!

What are your hopes/aspirations for the future?
To get an Olympic medal in Sochi in 2014 (and a six pack!).

What would you recommend to anyone who wants to be a short track skater?
Train hard and don't be afraid to push yourself on the ice!

Where could I try skating?
Local ice rinks will usually have clubs or special sessions where you can try it out.

Elise's final thought:
I was really surprised when my coach told me I was world number on. I'd just fallen in one of my other races so I was feeling a bit annoyed about that, so being told I was at the top of the world rankings made me feel a bit better! I've come into this season wanting to attack my races and get out there and just see what I can do. So far it's paying off, but it's a risky strategy because so much is happening so quickly in speed skating and you can easily crash out. Everyone keeps talking about Sochi, and even though 2014 seems like a long way off, it's really only just over a year away. You can't expect anything in short track because it's so fast and unpredictable, but I'm going to give it everything I've got in the run up to the Games and who knows.

_Images courtesy of Press Association and GB Short Track_