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Slope Stars: Chemmy Alcott

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.

Chemmy Alcott is Britain's most successful female skier Chemmy Alcott started skiing on a family ski holiday Chemmy Alcott started skiing on a family ski holiday