Senior Editor Graham Bell reports from the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang...
While not quite a fight to the death, wave upon wave of sound swirled around the ice palace, intoxicating all in attendance as the gliders delivered a patient spectacle.
A dart, a dare. Do they sit, or strive? Decisions that have to be taken in a heartbeat - on instinct, with just the narrowest of blade contact on ice so gleaming, a true case of all or nothing.
For Elise Christie, the weight of a nation rested upon her slender shoulders. Built up as the champion in waiting, this was the time to banish the memories of the medal-less Sochi Games of four years ago.
But before her laid a five-woman challenge, including a home-town hero being sucked around the bends and blown down the straights by a partisan crowd.
The action may have taken under a minute but the drama could have filled a play. Christie's stumble may have stolen the headlines, but the battle on the line needed a photograph to separate - a matter of inches proving the difference between immortality and being a mere footnote.
Arianna Fontana stood defiant, a champion. Soaking in every moment of a dream realised. Yet across the ice - eyes were on the defeated. A world shattered before her, a peek back to where she was before. A lost look for friendship and compassion eventually found off the ice - where every emotion eventually was set free. This wasn't the storybook ending she'd hoped for.
And neither was it for the home crowd. The delight of silver for Choi Min-jeong swept away with disqualification, taking with it the vociferous atmosphere - replaced by the silent shuffle of departure. The gladiators battle done for another day at the Games.