Speed skater Elise Christie has revealed how learning to lose and racing against boys can help her become world champion this season.
The 26-year-old Sky Academy Sports Scholar is all set for the start of the World Cup series on Friday as Calgary hosts three days of frenetic action inside the Olympic Oval.
Christie is desperate to continue shining after being crowned European champion and winning three golds in four World Cup events in her last campaign.
A hip injury, sickness and fatigue in a gruelling pre-season schedule may have interrupted her preparation over the last few weeks, but the Scot is fired up having fine-tuned her skills towards a goal that seems contradictory to her brutally competitive nature.
“My main focus at the start of this season through the first four World Cups is learning to lose!” said Christie, who will compete in the 500m, 1,000m, 1,500m and relay races.
“As weird as it sounds, I need to work on my mental ability to cope with losing. At the moment if I don’t win every race it makes me think I’m not good enough and impacts my performance negatively. So my goal is to qualify but not necessarily win every race and be able to treat every race as a new race.
“Just because someone has beaten you once doesn’t mean they are going to beat you every time. I believe this will help me gain the tools I need to become world champion at the end of the year.”
After Canada, Christie will begin her world tour with visits to Salt Lake City, Shanghai and Gangneung in South Korea before Christmas. It’s then Dresden and Minsk in Belarus before the world championships in Rotterdam in March.
South Korean skater Choi Min-jeong will be top of the list of Christie’s fierce rivals and she will be buoyed by the memory of beating the teenage sensation in Germany over the 1,500m distance nine months ago.
Olympic glory in Pyeongchang, South Korea in February 2018 is also starting to appear on the radar where she will be gunning for revenge after her devastating crashes and disqualifications in Sochi two years ago.
The World Cup is Christie’s bread and butter for now though and she’s leaving no stone unturned having called upon ALL of her team-mates for assistance.
She added: “As well as learning all the skills and becoming stronger, I’ve been doing loads of training with the boys this year!
“It’s helped me develop an ability to skate much calmer at faster speeds and I’ve also been able to learn new skills by following their lines.
“I’m feeling good and I’m really looking forward to the start of racing after a long summer. I’ve skated so many personal bests this year and I’ve still got a lot to work on.
“I’m just super excited to get out and race and have some fun.”
WHAT’S COMING UP FOR OUR SCHOLARS….
NOV 4-6: Elise Christie, World Cup opener, Calgary
NOV 5: Jessica Judd, XC Relays at Mansfield
NOV 7-10: Jack Bateson, GB boxing training camp
NOV 11-14: Elise Christie, World Cup, Salt Lake City, USA
NOV 12: Jessica Judd, Milton Keynes XC