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Elise Christie: 'It was easier to hide from stuff before social media'


Hi Elise. First things first, you’ve just emphatically ended 23 years of Asian dominance in world short track speed skating by winning triple gold at the world championships in Rotterdam. How does that make you feel? I didn’t realise at the time that I’d done that but now I feel like I’ve started a revolution here you know? And I hope that in the future people will follow. All the Europeans have been coming up to me and seem just as happy about it as the British. I remember at the time losing my voice from all the roaring.

You’ve done a lot of roaring in the past few years. You’ve now won 29 medals in major events. Where do you put them all? They’re in the living room in a little cabinet but I want to do something better with them.


A little cabinet? I imagine you’ll need a bigger one with the Winter Olympics on the horizon. You sucked up some hardcore abuse on Twitter after your disappointment in Sochi the likes of which Small Talk can’t even imagine taking … It was really difficult. There were thousands of death threats …

Thousands! Yeah, stupid comments and it was really hard but one of the things that really helped was being part of the Sky Scholarships scheme. They assigned me a mentor, the rugby player Will Greenwood, who suffered huge loss and was able to come back and be so successful [winning the World Cup in 2003]. He said he received abuse in his career but just made the point that these people would never say such things to your face …

He’s 6ft 4in tall and massive Elise. They’d certainly never say it to his face … They’d be brave to wouldn’t they?

They certainly would. Would you like to invite some of these keyboard warriors on to the ice with you and see how they do? Well exactly. It’s hard when it first happens but then you think ‘What are these people doing?’ They’re obviously hanging around online looking for someone to be horrible to instead of doing good things with their own lives. In the end I turned it around and focused on the good comments. You have to. That support kept me going.

Do you think life was more simple and perhaps better before social media existed? Yeah, for sure. It’s good in some ways because it connects the world but it was definitely easier to hide from stuff before it. I had a lot of anxiety after all the threats in Sochi and that would never have happened before – I’d never have seen those comments. You don’t expect it – and you’re not prepared for it. In short track there are a lot of people who don’t understand it and for them to judge me … you can get knocked over at any point in a race and your Olympics are over.

Sounds scary Elise. Particularly when you’re going as fast as you do. How fast do you go? We go over 30mph with up to six of us on a small track, which feels pretty fast, particularly when you’re having to lean so much. It puts a lot of pressure on your ankles.

Ouch. Are there any little sneaky tricks that you can do to get one over an opponent? Definitely. You can play with their heads a bit when you’re racing. For instance, in the semi-final I didn’t try to beat the Korean [Choi Min-jeong] so in the final she thought she had it already.

Ah, clever … Well, she was the reigning overall world champion. I’m not saying I would have definitely won it any way. But I just went for qualification so she thought she had it in the bag.

And then you nailed it in the final. Well done. You thought about switching to cycling for a while after Sochi. Is that something you would still consider in the future? I would but at the minute I’m not saying I would definitely be able to make the grade. Both sports are about strong thighs and calf muscles though. I’m not ready to leave short track yet but I’d consider it in the future.

Could a cyclist do it the other way around? Could someone like Chris Hoy, with his bulging thighs, make a fist of short track speed skating? I think you’d have to make the switch earlier and you have to be smaller. You then work on gaining power and not losing it. I imagine he’s still got massive thighs but the technique of skating is probably a bit harder to pick up than cycling.

You’re obviously very busy when it’s cold. What do you do when it’s warm? Do you have to dust some rollerblades off? There are a lot of teams that do that but when you fall rollerblading you can injure yourself more seriously than you would on the ice. I do a lot of cycling and running. We do imitations, which is off-ice training, when you use cords like on a bungee rope and wear shoes instead of skates and do short track-style moves.

It sounds like Cool Runnings … Hah. It does seem a bit like that yeah.

A lot of athletes Small Talk has spoken to don’t tend to get out much. Do you? No, not really.

Does that disappoint you? When I was younger it probably did but now I would just feel guilty if I ever went out and I’d be thinking this could ruin my chances in PyeongChang [at the Winter Olympics next year].

Elise Christie



Elise Christie with a Minion.

Having looked at your Twitter feed – and not because Small Talk’s trolling you – you were out at an Olly Murs gig recently weren’t you? I went the other night. That was cool but I don’t usually go to gigs though … well, I’ve only been to like one gig before that one.

One? Really? Yeah.

Who was it? Westlife.

Westlife and Olly Murs. You’re really going to have to build yourself up to a proper gig. Who would you really like to see? Hmmm. Music-wise it would have to be Justin Bieber. I think because everyone wants to see him at some point don’t they?

Not Small Talk. He’s good.

Let’s move on. Do you ever show off on Christmas ice rinks? Yeah, sometimes although I’m not actually that good on normal skates.

Really? I can skate like a normal person would but the little skates are a lot harder for me.

But didn’t you used to be a figure skater? Yeah, but I can’t do that anymore. The front parts of the skates just dig into the ice. If I did figure skating again it would probably come back though but I haven’t done that for about seven years.

Watching any box sets at the moment? Scandal was my favourite. I like crime stuff. Homeland’s good.

Favourite film? The Green Mile but I also like quite lighthearted stuff too like Despicable Me.

What three things would you put in Room 101. We’re guessing Twitter trolls are one of them? Oh yes, they can go in there. And I’d get rid of anything with loads of dots on it. Have you heard of trypophobia?

Trypo… what? I hate loads of holes or dots all over the place.

Does it make you lose your balance or something? Well, maybe. My eyes don’t respond well to them. If your eyes try to count how many dots there are it really stresses your brain out.

Well, they’re gone then. One more thing? Coriander! I like every food in the world except coriander. It just stands out too much.

Coriander’s great … No, no it’s not. I’ll be having a curry and all I can taste is coriander.

OK, you’ve made your point. Cheese or chocolate? Chocolate.

Favourite vegetable? Avocado.

It’s actually a berry but we’ll let you off. Do you support a football team? I like Dundee United.

And you train in Loughborough. Do you follow a team down there? I’ve been to see Leicester a few times but probably Nottingham Forest.

What will the score be against Derby? Forest will win 4-0 [never mind, it ended 2-2].

Emphatic. You’re Scottish. Who’s your favourite Scottish person? Sean Connery. He’s pretty cool.

Who’d win a fight between a lion and a tiger? A tiger, because they’re the underdog.

What are you doing for the rest of the afternoon? I’m going to try and get some lunch if I have time.

Carrot and coriander soup? No.

Fair enough. Thanks for your time Elise. Bye. Bye Small Talk.


Elise Christie is a current Sky Sports Scholar. The Sky Academy Sports Scholarship scheme is now open for applications from sporting stars aged 16-25. Applications close at midnight on Sunday 26 March.



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