SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Canadian short-track couple Charles Hamelin and Marianne St Gelais endured a miserable run in their individual events at the Sochi Olympics on Tuesday with both wiping out on a chaotic day of racing.
Three-times Olympic champion Hamelin was left thumping the ice in anger after crashing out leading his 500m heat, and St Gelais will go home without an individual medal after losing her balance and crashing out of the 1,000m.
“After the race I felt like I wanted to destroy everything ... I cried after the race,” a distraught Hamelin said after losing his chance to win back-to-back Olympic golds over the distance.
“Short track can be a rude sport. It doesn’t take much to make a person fall,” added Hamelin, whose chances of setting up a showdown with Russian star Viktor Ahn vanished when he somehow lost his footing on the final lap of his heat despite being ahead of the chasing pack.
St Gelais also lost her footing and took out Jorien ter Mors after colliding with her rival on lap two of the 1,000m.
But the Dutchwoman, who won the 1,500m speed skating gold at the neighboring Adler Arena, was advanced into the quarters despite finishing a lap behind the winner after the referee ruled St Gelais had blocked her path.
Slamming into the barriers is an all too familiar feeling for Elise Christie, who was disqualified in two earlier races, but on Tuesday the Briton stayed clear of trouble and surged into the 1,000m quarter-finals.
“I spent a long few days feeling quite down and struggling psychologically,” said Christie, adding she had been abused on social media for her Sochi failure.
”I came and trained yesterday and it was really difficult, quite emotional and stuff, but then I was told about all the support I have had back home and that has really boosted me for today and I smiled for the first time in a while.
“After the 1,500 I did think, ‘oh, I don’t want to do this really’. But I would never have pulled out because I have that grit in me.”
Russian favorite Ahn looked in fine shape to add to his haul of four Olympic gold medals as he avoided any drama to win his 500m heat at the Iceberg Skating Palace.
Ahn’s was introduced to the crowd by the MC of the arena, who listed all of the South Korean-born athlete’s achievements.
“Here we have Viktor Ahn, a six-times Olympic medalist, a four times Olympic champion, and 18-times world championships gold medalist....” he began.
The MC’s introduction of Ahn seemed to last longer than the fast and furious 4-1/2 lap heat, which the Russian won in 41.450 seconds.
South Korean men are still in pursuit of their first short track gold in Sochi, and Lee Han-bin and Park Se-yeong will be hoping to snap that barren run in the final day of racing on Friday.
Additional reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel; editing by Peter Rutherford