Sochi 2014: Sky Academy Sports Scholar Elise Christie confident of handling medal expectations
By Sam Drury - Follow on Twitter. Last Updated: 14/01/14 3:54pm
Elise Christie: Admitted that the expectations on her took some getting used to
Speed skater Elise Christie has admitted that she found it difficult to cope with the expectation put on her at the beginning of this season but now, with the Winter Olympics less than a month away, the Sky Academy Sports Scholar believes she has learnt to cope with it.
A stunning 2012/13 season saw Christie ranked No 1 in the world over 1000m, having taken bronze over the distance in the World Championships and won the overall 1000m World Cup title.
"It is a challenge, I even had a skater come up to me at the last World Cup while I was on the ice for the relay and she said, 'I'm going to break you'"
A focus on improving tactics, as well as the added burden of high expectations, has meant results so far this campaign haven't reached the level as the previous year, but a 1000m bronze medal in the final World Cup event before Christmas suggest that the Scot is hitting form again at just the right time.
"I think at the start of this season I did struggle with it a bit because I'd done so well last season, this year I found it quite hard," said Christie.
"I think things have moved forward gradually throughout the year and now I don't really see it as much pressure. Everyone's just supporting me and there's a lot of media and the public doing a lot to promote speed skating which is really good, so I'm really happy about it."
The pressure remains but the 23-year-old from Livingston acknowledges that this is to be expected as one of Great Britain's biggest medal hopes in an Olympic year.
"I am getting used to it but I think it is all positive," she added. "People are taking a lot of an interest in what athletes do on a daily basis, not just what they do in one competition now, so I think it is really good."
An additional challenge for Christie is that she will go to the Games without a relay team behind her.
Historically those athletes without the support of their team struggle to get medals but Christie played down such talk, pointing to her World Championships medal as proof that a having a relay team around you isn't essential.
"That's also similar to the World Championships," she said. "There are not many skaters, especially females, to have won medals that aren't in relay teams but I did it. So I don't really look at things like that and let them hold me back.
"It is a challenge, I even had a skater come up to me at the last World Cup while I was on the ice for the relay and she said, 'I'm going to break you', I think.
"I think because they've got their team - there's a lot of girls of the same standard - they think they've got this thing up on you but me and Charlotte (Gilmartin, GB team-mate) don't really let that get to us.
"I mean she was being comical at the same time, we get along but you can tell that there's some rivalry and they think they can get to you because they're a team whereas there are only a couple of us. I think they do think that I'm scared of them but I just play as being scared of them."