Speed Skating - Horsepool: We've still got work to do to secure Olympic places

Great Britain's short track Sochi hopefuls still have work to do booking their Olympic qualification.

Sportsbeat

The nine-strong team all but secured seven of the available 18 quota places for next year's Games with their performances at the World Cup in Turin, which doubled as the first Olympic qualifier.

World bronze medallist Elise Christie successfully raced to the final 16 in all three individual distances, while Jack Whelbourne reached the same stage in both the 1500m and 500m.

But there was mixed news for both relay quartets, who need to finish ranked in the top eight in both Turin and next week's World Cup in Kolomna to secure an Olympic place.

Both British teams failed to progress through their heat to rank ninth overall, though the British men's quartet was later promoted to eighth after Hungary was yellow carded in the semi-finals.

“The last few days has been a lot of very intense racing with not a lot of time between rounds, so Elise and Jack have shown great composure and strength to make so far in all three distances," said Stuart Horsepool, British short track's performance director.

"It will be a lot easier for them at the Games because there will be days between events instead of hours.

“We didn’t have the start we had hoped for in the men’s relay, so they need to improve in Kolomna to guarantee a place at Sochi.

"We know they are capable of turning things around as we saw at the World Cup in Seoul where they won bronze after going out early the previous week in Shanghai.

“The women did well in their relay and they’re in ninth place at the moment. They are still a young team so to be ninth in the world at this point for them is very exciting for the future.”

Encouragingly Christie looked back near the form that saw he ranked world number one over 1000m last season, finishing sixth in the 1500m and breaking team-mate Charlotte Gilmartin's British record in the process.

“Just now it isn’t really as important for me to go out and win medals, it’s important to try to qualify spots for the team," she said.

"It’s been good, everything has gone well here. After how hard the past few months have been, it's nice to feel some relief eventually.”

Great Britain are seeking to win their first short track speed skating medal since Nicky Gooch's 500m bronze at the 1994 Games in Lillehammer in Sochi next year.

© Sportsbeat 2013

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