A THRILLING International Skating Union 2015 European Short Track Speed Skating Championships came to a conclusion on Sunday when Redditch’s Charlotte Gilmartin claimed an excellent seventh overall placing and her Great Britain team-mate Elise Christie was crowned ladies’ European champion for the first time.
After three days of competing in Holland, Scottish sensation Christie finished top of the pile in the overall ladies’ standings in Dordrecht, whilst Gilmartin continued her flourishing form over the weekend as she finished in seventh spot overall having made two finals – finishing fourth in the 1,000m and fifth in the 1,500m.
After claiming two gold medals on Saturday in the 1,500m and 500m, Christie had skated her way to qualifying to compete in Sunday afternoon’s 3,000m super final.
Christie, whose dreams of Winter Olympics glory last year in Sochi, Russia, were cruelly dashed by a string of controversial disqualifications, finished in second place hot on the heels of Poland’s Patrycja Maliszewska and scored enough points to put her at the top of the leaderboard, gaining her the overall European title and securing her a further gold medal.
Christie commented on her win: “I still can’t believe that I am the 2015 European Champion. When I came off the ice from the 3,000m I didn’t actually realise I had won until it showed up on the board.
“The aim of today (Sunday) was to focus on the 1,000m as it is my strongest distance, (but) unfortunately I got a penalty in the semi-finals which meant I didn’t make the final, however I didn’t let it get to me and made sure that I then turned my attention to the 3,000m super final.
“I feel like I’ve skated really well this weekend and I will now look towards training for the next three big races.”
Gilmartin, the 2013 European Championships 1,500m bronze medallist who headed into the event on the back of a trio of silver medals both the British Short Track Speed Skating Championships and the ISU Star Class Cup in Nottingham, was delighted with her efforts.
“I feel stronger than I have ever been coming out of a big competition, which is a really great feeling,” said the Nottingham-based 24-year-old.
“With each competition I have made positive steps forward and I’m pleased with how I am skating.
“I’m really excited for the next few competitions where I will hopefully grow even more as an athlete.”
GB Short Track Performance Director Stuart Horsepool said: “Charlotte skated exceptionally well over the three days and I’m really pleased with how she has performed.
“I’m also really proud of Elise for coping well with ups and downs.”
There are two World Cup events remaining this season before the ISU World Short Track Championships, which are being held in Russia between March 13-15.