Quite a sweet interview with Christie’s coach just now on the BBC. He was tearing up at the mere memory of her winning the World Championship, so he might actually burst if she wins gold. The final starts in about 15 minutes.
If nothing else, the Winter Olympics is belting for pictures, all that scenic snow and whatnot. And here are the best ones from day four:
In that men’s 5,000m skating relay, predictably enough the ending was chaotic. On the final corner Canada’s Samuel Girard was sent flying into the sideboards, and after some deliberation the judges rule that the Dutch skater took him out, and thus they’re kicked out. China win, and thanks to that official intervention Canada are second, into the final.
We’re in end four in the curling, and Canada have belted out into a 6-2 lead.
The women’s luge penultimate heat is done: the final one, wittled down to 20 competitors and where the medals will be dished out, starts in about 20 minutes. Natalie Geisenberger is in the lead, Tatjana Huefner is second and Alex Gough is currently in the bronze medal position.
Competitive chaos on the rink now: or, as the IOC insist on calling it, the men’s 5,000m short track speed skating relay. No baton, they just push each other on the bum to switch over, which adds a little frisson. Blokes all over the shop, and there’s already been one crash in the first heat.
2-2 now in that curling mixed doubles gold medal match between Canada and Switzerland. There’s a real edge to the yelling at each other which is hugely enjoyable.
After the first end in the mixed doubles curling, Canada are 2-0 ahead over Switzerland.
So five skaters into the final. Christie will be in lane four, which could make things spicy. Boutin was allowed through from the last semi because Qu was adjudged to have hampered her. That race will be at 21.09 local, 12.09 GMT.
Woof! A very close race. Christie stumbled a little at the start, but then took the lead ahead of Canada’s Kim Boutin. Qu Chunyu fell and is out, and Van Kerkhof took the lead. Christie stretched, tried to get her toe over the line first, but Van Kerkhof won by 4cm.
The arena erupts as Korean Choi Minjeong skates past Arianna Fontana to win the first semi, but there’s a surprise as China’s Fan Kexin – five time world champ – finishes third and is out! Actually – she’s penalised and is disqualified. Christie’s Olympic record didn’t last long – Choi sets a new mark of 42.422.
Women’s 500m short track speed skating semi-finals coming up: the skaters are on the ice for the first one, Christie is in the second.
The gold medal game in the mixed doubles curling is underway: Canada v Switzerland, no score so far.
Japes in the eighth and final heat: a great big crash, three skaters go down, but the pen-pushers at City Hall have apparently changed the rules so the one dude left standing can’t just sail through and win by glorious default, like Steven Bradbury at Salt Lake City in 2002. They restart the race, Pavel Sitnikov from Russia blamed for the collision and disqualified. Shaolin Sandor Liu – who the BBC commentators are very keen to tell us is Elise Christie’s boyfriend – is the wins the reset race.
Seventh skating heat: home boy Hwang Daehoen wins, and Britain’s Josh Cheetham comes third, so won’t go through.
Nobody has yet gone above Geisenberger in the huge luge: she’s in the lead, fellow German Tatjana Huefner is just behind her and Canada’s Alex Gough is third. This is the first run, by the way: we’ll see medals dished out later, from 12.30.
More drama in the sixth heat: initially it looks like a big shock is on our hands, Korea’s Seo Yira, who won at the World Championships this year, finishes the race third and thus should be out. BUT – the judges decide that China’s Han Tianyu, who won, did a naughty during an overtaking move and is disqualified, and thus Seo goes through.
Another Olympic record is set: Canada’s Charles Hamelin goes through at pace in the fifth heat, going round in 1:23.407.
The fourth heat in the skating is done: Sjinkie Knegt, out of the Netherlands with his vowels all over the shop, wins. The judges take a look at the tapes to see if anything was askew – and it is. Ren Ziwei, who finished the race second, is tossed for some sort of infraction. It is slightly incongruous, although obviously very sensible, that the judges are wearing dark blazers, shirt and tie, grey slacks…and ice skates.
Meanwhile, the women’s singles luge (because doubles luge is a thing – an insane, terrifying thing) is underway. Germany’s Natalie Geisenberger is currently in the lead.
No giggling at the back here: in the third heat, Semen Elistratov puts on a late burst to qualify in second place, behind Canada’s Samuel Girard.
Less falling over and stuff in the second heat: but the home crowd go wild, wild, wild as Korea’s Lim Hyojun wins.
Drama! Hungary’s Shaoang Liu and Japan’s Ryosuke Sakazume collide a lap or so from home as the latter tried to undertake. All of which means Treacy sailed through as one of the two remaining skaters, with American John-Henry Krueger taking the victory. After a quick conflab the judges decide Liu was at fault, and the silver medallist from last year’s World Championships is out, out, out.
The chaps are up now in the short track speed skating. The 1,000m heat is first, featuring Britain’s superbly named Farrell Treacy.
FYI: Christie will be in the second semi-final, which should start at 11:13. But don’t just go away and come back then. Stick around. What fun we will have.
In fairness, he hasn’t got much else on these days…
Speaking of hockey…
The hockey has finished: no further score, so the Canadians take that preliminary round, Group A game 4-1 over Finland.
Belting race in the final quarter, all four skaters separated by about a metre. The lead changed hands a few times, but China’s Qu Chunyu took first place, while the home crowd are delighted that Choi Minjeong qualifies in second.
Multiple World Champion Fan Kexin is in the next quarter, but she’s edged out into second place by OAR skater Sofia Prosvirnova. Fan is through in second, but Han Yutong is surprisingly eliminated, coming third.
Christie is content to take the first lap and a bit in second, but she overtakes Kim Boutin smartly on the inside and holds on for the rest of the race. Everyone else falls over, Boutin at the very last and slides over the line. Christie goes through to the semis, and sets a new Olympic record of 42.703!
St Gelais slinks off the ice, which makes the race itself much more roomy: Fontana takes it with a relative amount of ease, with Van Kerkhof finishing second. They’ll both go through to the semis. Christie up next…
Wipe out on the first corner: Yara Van Kerkhof goes down, so they’ll restart. The officials are looking at the replay to see if anyone needs a slap on the wrist for causing that. And it’s Canada’s Marianne St Gelais that gets the finger of blame pointed at her, and she’s disqualified!
Short track speed skating ahoy. The first 500m quarter-final is up: Italy’s Arianna Fontana, who won silver four years back (after colliding with Christie) goes in this one.
Ten minutes until the speed skating: Christie goes in the second quarter-final of the women’s 500m.
A minor lull in proceedings at the moment. Finland have pulled back a consolation in the hockey, Riikka Vaila making it 4-1, the Canadians still comfortably in the lead.
Oh, as I press publish: Young is pushed into 31st, so won’t be back for the next round.
Britain’s Andrew Young has posted what is apparently a respectable time in the men’s sprint cross-country skiing. He’s currently ranked 24th, with the top 30 going through. Finland’s Ristomatti Hakola is in the lead.
4-0 now in the ice hockey: Canada are way ahead, Jillian Saulnier getting their fourth to pop a cap on the rout over Finland.
Back at the cross-country skiing, for the parochialists among us all, Britain’s Andrew Young goes in the men’s sprint qualification shortly.
Another step here towards the inevitability of the robots taking over and destroying us all. They can ski now. My god. Nice that they’ve put little coats on some of them, mind.
The women’s speed skaters are warming up on the rink – a reminder that Elise Christie goes in the women’s 500m today: the quarter-final gets going in just under an hour.
Canada are sashaying away with their preliminary round ice hockey match against Finland: 3-0 now, Melodie Daoust absolutely battering one home from range.
Nostalgia! From the archives, here’s how the Guardian reported Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards’s achievements at the 1988 games in Calgary.
Eddie Edwards arrived an hour late at the Winter Olympic press centre. His apologies were waved aside. This man is news. Egypt with its pyramids, the press believe, has more ski jumping opportunities than Britain, and Eddie, in his Gloucestershire burr, hardly dissuaded them.
“There’s a million and one reasons why you stand at the top of the 90-metre jump and think why you shouldn’t go down,” he said. “You see across the valley and it looks and is dangerous.”
Anyway, the women’s sprint classic qualification is underway, and defending champion Maiken Caspersen Falla has been and gone and looks to be comfortably through, with Sweden’s Stina Nilsson the quickest thus far.
The skiing at these Olympics provides quite a handy summary of the breadth of the human experience. For many, skiing is a pleasurable experience, a leisure activity for the monied, young or both which forms part of a charming trip to scenic parts of France or Austria. But then you make it uphill, remove the lovely drinks, the warm, bearskin rugged lodge at the end and indeed all the fun, and you’ve got a competitive sport.