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Yara van Kerkhof of the Netherlands collides with Marianne St Gelais of Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018.Julie Jacobson/The Associated Press

Sometimes there is a randomness to short-track speed skating that even the athletes themselves can't explain.

Marianne St-Gelais fell victim to one of those moments on Tuesday when she was disqualified from the women's 500m race - an event she was favoured to win - after inadvertently making contact with a Dutch skater.

The incident happened mere seconds into the race, as the skaters were jockeying for position. St-Gelais said she was ahead of the Yara Van Kerkhof of the Netherlands when her opponent fell, and the race was halted.

Thinking she'd done nothing wrong, St-Gelais went back to the line with the other skaters, expecting a re-start. Seconds later she was shocked to find she'd been disqualified.

"I was like there is nothing to do about it, she just fell, we're going to redo the race, redo the start and everything's going to be right. But they decided something else," St-Gelais said later, still trying to understand the decision.

The three-time Olympic medalist said she's never seen a disqualification quite like that in all her years competing. Though she was jockeying for position, St-Gelais maintains she was in front of her opponent and well within the rules.

"I'm not happy with the decision," she said. "I knew I needed to have a good start, which I had. I was ahead of the girl. She fell, and I've been called. We've never seen that in short track before."

It is the latest example for Canada of how quickly fortunes can change in short-track speed skating. A few days ago, her long-time boyfriend Charles Hamelin, Canadas's most decorated short-track skater, was penalized and bounced from contention in the men's 1500m race after trying to hold his position against a skater behind him. Hamelin was widely expected to win the gold medal at the Pyeongchang Games, but was instead left empty-handed.

It is something athletes like St-Gelais know all too well. "This is short track," she said with a shrug.

The judges' decision could not be appealed, leaving the Canadian team stunned. The 27-year-old from Saint-Felicien, Que., who took silver in the same event at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, now has three other chances at the podium in Pyeongchang, including the 1500m race which she will now begin preparing for.

"Nobody understands the call, and I don't. But we can't change anything right now. And there's nothing we can do about it, so I just have to look forward."

St-Gelais is hoping to leave South Korea with multiple medals around her neck, before finally hanging up her skates for good at the end of this season.

"I'm going to focus on a little bit of rest for sure. There's so many things that we have been avoiding because we were athletes," she said of her lifestyle racing for Canada.

When asked what those things might be, St-Gelais, still dumbfounded by the disqualification, jokingly suggested one particular activity: "Having a glass of wine."