24 January 2022
| THE HEARTBEAT OF WOMEN'S SPORT

Sportsister meets Chemmy Alcott

February 16, 2010

Sportsister chatted to Britain’s number one skier Chemmy Alcott during her preparations for the Winter Olympics. Chemmy shares her thoughts on what it takes to be the best in this high speed sport.

chemmy-alcottTell me about your Olympic preparations

They’re going well and I’m enjoying them. But it gets really hectic. Unlike other sports we don’t have a pre Olympic preparation camp. We don’t really have any time for that because I do all five disciplines of skiing and I have the same amount of world cups in an Olympic year as in a non Olympic year. Everything gets crammed together. But that suits me fine. You do all the work to start racing so you don’t want to have to hang around anyway.

You compete in five skiing disciplines. Do you have a strongest event?

My best are giant slalom and downhill. But I choose to ski all five because I found that when I specialised, I got a bit more impatient. It was always the same thing day in day out, so by adding the variety I found that each discipline improved.

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Read more about Chemmy here

Video: Chemmy Alcott reveals what kit makes her go fast on the slopes

Chemmy Alcott continues to shine in Val d’Isere

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What is your goal for the Vancouver Olympics?

I really wouldn’t be in this sport if I didn’t believe I could win. I’ve proved that I can win now, because I won a round last year. I just need to keep believing in myself. I really know that if all the preparations go right and I’m on top form I have a chance of being on top of that podium. Because I have the talent, it’s just all about the belief.

Would you say that Vancouver is this the right timing for you? Will this be your Games?

I’m 27 and that’s quite a good time for skiing. But Michaela Dorfmeister, the double Olympic Champion in Turin was 32 years old, so Sochi in another four years could also be another good one for me too. I do this sport because I love it, and I’m good at it and competitive. If something happens and I’m not competitive in four years then I’m not just going to ski because I’m Britain’s best skier, I’m skiing because I believe I can be the world number one.

Who would you say would be your main competitors?

Lindsay Vonn is the best skier in the world right now; she’s got something that we’re all trying to catch up on. She’s taken skiing to another level. It’s so competitive at the moment, anyone could win on the day and that’s what makes it so exciting.

Would winning an Olympic gold medal be a greater achievement to you than winning the World Cup next year?

It’s quite a tough one, because the competition level at the World Cup events is actually more difficult than at the Olympics. But the Olympics is the thing that every athlete dreams of. I’ve been dreaming about it since I was a little girl. I’ve got a piece of paper with a bit of string on it with a dream I had. I came down in the morning and said ‘mummy and daddy I just dreamt that I’d won a gold medal at the Olympics’, and they told me to write it down. So I did. It’s so cute and I’ve kept it – my hand writing is terrible on it! But I’ve always had that dream and it is the ultimate for an athlete to win an Olympic gold.

chemmy-alcott-2Why is the competition level harder at a World Cup?

Because in the Olympics you can only get a maximum number of people in the competition from a country. So ski dominated countries like Austria who have got an amazing amount of depth in their squad are only allowed a certain number of athletes at the Olympics.

Are there any sports that are not currently in the winter Olympic line up that you think should be or would like to see?

I like equality and women’s ski jumping is getting established now but is not in the Olympics. Anything guys can do, girls can do too. So I definitely think that should be an Olympic event.

Is there a sense of camaraderie between you and the other girls on the World Cup events, because you see each other so regularly?

Because of the danger in skiing – it’s just you on the mountain, with no other girls – so there’s so much respect. When I get to the bottom, and then someone else comes in behind me who’s beaten me by two seconds, I think ‘wow you’ve really pushed yourself to the limits today’ and there’s respect for that. It’s an amazing friendship we have on the World Cup circuit. My best friend (Julia Mancuso) is a girl I race against

You say that you push and race yourself to the limit, is that how you feel at the beginning of every race?

It is. At a recent World Cup event it was a two run race to qualify. The first I had a great run, made a few mistakes but I really pushed myself to the limit. And the second run, I really didn’t go to my limit and I got beaten because of that. It’s so competitive right now every run has to be to the max. It’s tough standing at the start gate knowing that you’re about to do that but at the same time so satisfying.

There must be a lot of mental preparation that you have to do as well as the physical side of things to get your head in the right place in order to compete like that?

Yes definitely, I work closely with a psychologist and it’s something we work on all the time. I believe that the talent level between the top 30 is similar so it’s the confidence and belief that is important.

Would you describe it as a dangerous sport?

Yes, it’s dangerous because of the competition level now and that you have to push your limits. You can’t ski safe any more in these races, because there is no chance of winning like that. Any sport that pushes your personal boundaries means that you do get some big crashes and sometimes they can be very serious. That is part of the excitement though – everyone says to me ‘you’re in such good shape and if you can just stay injury free for the Olympics that would be great’. But how do you stay injury free? In this sport you can’t aim to do that because you’ll never make it if you don’t push yourself.

When it comes to your training, do you ever struggle to motivate yourself?

No because this is my job. Getting up in the morning and going to the gym is something that I would be doing anyway, so for it to be my job is not tough. That is what we do.

Can you give our readers a tip to motivate them with their training?

I think variety is key. A lot of people who go out and do the same thing day in and day out find the monotony gets too much. I think training with other people is the best motivation. It’s rare that they will have an off day when you have one, so one of you will help build the other one up.

What do you eat for breakfast on the day of a competition?

I try to have a mix of protein and carbs before the race. So eggs, if possible, or muesli. I eat quite a big breakfast a few hours before the race.

After an event do you treat yourself to a nice meal?

Because I’m travelling for about five months of the years, you sort of get what you get. If I could I’d go for sushi after every race, to congratulate myself for the emotional and physical stress I’ve been through. But, you can’t do that when you’re in deepest darkest Austria! Sometimes it’s the case of stopping at the best service station that you can get dinner at. That sounds really glamorous!

How do you cope with living so much of your life on the road?

It helps that I have such a great home life when I am at home. I’ve got a lovely house and great friends and that helps me being away. I didn’t have that when I was younger and was a bit more nomadic, but now I need that. It’s fine if you treat it as your job, knowing that you’ve got one of the best jobs in the world, you’re not going to moan and whinge about it.

Have you got a favourite place in the world to ski?

I love Whistler. I know that sounds cheesy because the Olympics are there. It’s just got some amazing terrain. I went there on a ski holiday last year and it was just great. I’ve also got a little bit in my heart for Flaine, which is called the concrete capital of Europe! It’s got some amazing skiing and it is also where I grew up.

Louise Hudson, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine

Photo credits: Snowsports GB

For more info on Chemmy please visit her website: www.chemmyalcott.com

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