An historic Thursday quickly gave way to Black Friday yesterday as it fell a little flat for Great Britain in Sochi.
After Eve Muirhead’s women’s curling rink secured a thrilling bronze on Thursday to guarantee a record-equalling medal haul, hopes had been high going into the third-last day of competition at the Winter Olympics that more success would be on the way.
But despite David Murdoch’s men set for the podium today to collect their medals, it will be a deflated silver that hangs around their necks and not the glorious gold they had hoped for.
And a tortuous Games for short-track speed-skating prospect Elise Christie ended when she was harshly disqualified for being crashed into in the 1,000m semi-final shortly afterwards.
It means Britain’s hopes of a best ever haul of medals from a Winter Olympics – five – now rests in the hands of John Jackson and his four-man bobsleigh squad who go for gold at the Sanki Sliding Centre over the next two days.
Christie was left heartbroken last night after completing a hat-trick of unwanted short track eliminations.
After disqualification in the final of the 500 metres – which prompted threatening messages on social media – and a ‘did not finish’ ruling in her 1,500m heat, Christie was surely due a slice of luck.
But after qualifying comfortably in her quarter-final at the Iceberg Skating Palace, she went tumbling, along with China’s Li Jianrou, in her semi and both girls were disqualified for impeding, leaving race winner Shim Suk Hee and another Chinese skater, Fan Kexin, to go through.
Christie said: “I thought I’d just save my energy and try to smash it at the end, and I knew if I kept patient I had the speed, so that is what I went to do.
“When I was coming around the outside, I saw they went wide because they knew I was coming. So that is why I switched inside and then pulled tight early, and thought ‘I’ve done it’.
“I didn’t need to go for the win – I thought ‘I’ve qualified, that’s what I need, and I need to save my energy for the final.’
“But unfortunately, I got knocked from behind unexpectedly and fell over but I still thought it would be fine. And then I got the penalty.”
Asked if she knew exactly what the penalty was for, the 23-year-old said: “Vaguely. I’ve not talked it through with them but he (the referee) said I pushed her over.”
She added: “The problem with short track is that the referees are always different and there is no kind of consistency because every referee has a different opinion. I always respect the referee’s final decision, and I have to accept it anyway because that is short track, but I don’t agree with it.”
Murdoch, Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews and Michael Goodfellow could at least console themselves with a silver medal after crashing to a 9-3 final defeat against Canada at the Ice Cube Curling Center.
The 35-year-old skip had achieved a lifetime ambition when qualification through the semi-final against Sweden had guaranteed him his first Olympic medal at the third time of asking.
And the silver meant Britain had matched their best ever Winter Olympics medals haul of four – at Chamonix 1924 – with two days of the Games remaining.
Murdoch ponders future: Page 5