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Chemmy Alcott has competed in four Winter Olympics and six Ski World Championships. Chemmy started skiing on a family holiday and completed her first race at three years old. Having decided on becoming a professional ski racer, she spent her teenage years travelling to New Zealand for summer training. She’s also had her fair share of injuries to contend with – at the age of 12 she broke her neck and had to have two vertebrae fused together. Chemmy announced her retirement after competing at Sochi 2014 and now runs a race training company.
PARALLEL TRAILS: You started skiing at a very early age on a family holiday – where was that and what are you earliest memories of skiing?
CHEMMY ALCOTT: I was 18 months old when I first strapped on skis - I was an early learner, started walking young, so my parents thought I should give it a go. I would love to say I loved it straight away but I really struggled and have many videos clearly displaying my frustration as I watched my older brothers zoom past me. My earliest memory is probably when I thought I won a race aged three - although I stopped to give my videoing daddy a kiss on the way down so it was possibly not the fastest line but I was still presented with a teddy and a medal!
PT: Family has always been very important to you, so how much did those early family holidays in the mountains shape your future sporting career?
CA: Hugely - having older brothers who are naturally talented at sport always gave me something to aim for and motivated me to be better. And skiing is tough on a family as it takes a lot of effort - both time and financially and my parents sacrificed a lot to help me pursue my talent.
PT: Is it important to complete a course of ski lessons – such as the ESF badges - at an early age in order to learn the best technique. Or should skiing as a child be about having fun on bumps and jumps?
CA: That’s a good question. I used to think the former as that is how I made my early journey but now I think it is the latter, but to do so you need a good foundation then just ski everything in all weather conditions.
PT: At what age did you realise you wanted to be a ski racer?
CA: Until I was 11 my dream was to be a professional ski racer in the winter and a tennis player in the summer. Unrealistic but at least I set my targets high! After I won the Children’s Olympics aged 11 I decided to focus my heart and soul on skiing.
PT: What practical steps should a young skier take to progress from holiday skiing to race skiing?
CA: Don't rush it - having the freedom of making turns where you want restricted by a set pattern of gates can be challenging at first but just find an instructor you trust and who makes it fun and just roll with it!
PT: You’ve been at the top of British skiing for a number of years now, but there’s been plenty written about the lack of funding for winter sports in the UK. So will we ever produce an Olympic ski medallist?
CA: If we do they will have to be doubly as talented as the Austrians, Americans and Germans because of the lack of funding, resources and on snow facilities. Having said that do I believe it is possible.
PT: If someone asked you to choose your three favourite resorts around the world, what would they be and what makes them so special?
CA: Verbier in Switzerland is epic as there is so much skiable terrain without too much hiking, Flaine in France is where I grew up skiing and Valle Nevado in Chile as I have had some fantastic summer training there and there are hardly any tourists so you can ski fast all day long!
PT: When you’re driving from resort to resort to races across Europe, how do you pass the time and keep the roadtrip boredom at bay?
CA: Well thankfully Land Rover lend me a beautiful car which makes long journeys much easier. Usually I spend them doing active recovery having my legs shaken with my Compex muscle stimulation machine, reading and gossiping with American skier Julia Mancuso, my best friend on tour.