An Interview with a Ski Racer - Chemmy Alcott - Part 1
Started by Admin in Ski News 05-Jan-2012 - 1 Reply
Admin posted Jan-2012
Part 1 - From Creche to Crash, and the journey back
Just before Christmas, J2Ski caught up with Britain's Number One Skier, Chemmy Alcott, at her favourite gym; The Third Space in Soho. She was kind enough to share her story and ambitions with us...
Chemmy Alcott talking to J2Ski
Let's start at the beginning, when did you start skiing?
I was 18 months old, in Flaine. A lot of people think that's ridiculously early but when I was born, my brothers were already racing. I've got three older brothers, and my middle brother had been spotted by a French Ski School and told he could be a racer. So by the time I was born, he was already racing and, to be honest, you just want to do what your siblings do, especially when they're "cool older brothers"!
How far did your brothers go with their skiing?
They were in The Alpine Squad, both in the British Children's Team. They both retired when I, er, beat them!
It's very difficult for young guys, men in the sport of ski racing.
You have to make a lot of sacrifices to be a ski racer... and when you're younger as a woman I don't think that's such a problem; thinking about nutrition, thinking about fitness and that just came with me becoming more professional in my sport.
When you're a guy and you're 16 and you ski because it's just fun and someone says, right you need to start going to the gym, you need to start thinking about what you're eating, and they think "well, my friends aren't doing that".
I think maybe for females those sacrifices are slightly easier? I don't want to be controversial, but my brothers struggled and I found it fine; put it that way.
My brothers did the sport for enjoyment, I did it because I saw longevity and wanted to make a career out of it.
They all say they've retired and have got proper jobs now. But I'm pretty sure being a ski racer is a proper job, although right now it's not really a job as I'm paying a lot of money to do it... but I do consider it a proper job!
Have you ever raced against your brothers?
Only the pub race in Flaine but they won't race me now; now they've gone on to saying that they're really good powder skiers and better than me...
I think I must be a really irritating younger sister because I'm super-competitive.
My best attribute, as a ski racer, is that I'm competitive - I will persevere and fight until the end. The worst thing about my personality is that I'm competitive - literally, there's no line drawn.
Fortunately, my boyfriend Dougie Crawford (in the British Ski Team) is very similar to me so we have big battles, we compete at everything; sport, scrabble, anything.
It's interesting - the thing that carries you far in your career is also the thing that is probably the most frustrating for other people with you as a person.
What motivates you?
Just the fact that I love skiing. Skiing is my passion; I don't do it for the money, I just do it because I love it. I love being in that start gate, and being in complete control of my destiny. When I have a good day it's because I've got the balls to go on the limit and, when I haven't had a good day and I'm disappointed with myself then it's only myself to blame.
I think when you are in such control [of your destiny] you can use that as a positive; I love going out there every day and going better, stronger and faster. Other people would find that pressure, of having to improve every day, a challenge, but I love it.
Do you beat yourself up much when you feel you've under-performed?
Yeah, massively. That's part of the reason why I have to come back from this leg break; because I've got so much more to give, I've proved that I can be the best in the world with that run in Solden a few years ago but I just need the consistency to do that twice.
You've been quoted as saying the last thing you remember before the crash, was the thong of the racer in front of you... what do you remember of the immediate aftermath?
I do remember hammering my hand into the snow with anger. I remember I was punching the snow and all the paramedics were asking if I'd hurt my hand... but I was just so angry. I'd made so many changes for last year, going with the Canadian Teams and changing to Atomic and everything was going so well and I knew it was a bad crash so I was just so angry with myself.
You obviously knew it was bad?
I knew immediately it was bad, but once they'd given me the drugs and I'd been winched to the helicopter (because the helicopter doesn't land), and the drugs had done their job; I remember sitting there with all these people with worried looks around me.
The worst thing, mentally, as a ski racer is for people to think you're a hypochondriac. I need to be tough to do my sport.
One of the things I dislike about our society is that people judge you superficially and I look like a "girly" girl, although I've proved myself to be tough on the slopes.
When all the pain-killers had kicked in and I lost the pain, I started apologising to everyone and thought that I'd actually made up the pain. They said "really, that's bizarre, your legs not hurting at all now?", and I said "no, not at all, but the only thing that's slightly weird is that my leg's all wet."...
I sat up to have a look when they took my boot off (I like to know all the gory details) so straight away they stabbed me with ketamine, and put a mask on me, as they thought I'd go into shock. And that's why, I think, I can't remember the crash - I think one of the consequences of ketamine is short-term memory loss.
You're on record as being remarkably positive straight after the crash?
I think a lot of people who saw that, who don't know me, actually judged me as being unprofessional.
There's two mind-sets there. You either suffer with self pity and think of the 'what ifs' or you just deal with it and move on. Some people misunderstand and think I don't care about my sport which is completely wrong.
Where I've been in my sport, my journey, includes unexpectedly losing my Mum 5 years ago and ever since that moment I've lived carpe diem.
So I've crashed, I've broken my leg, there is nothing I can do about it...
Over the last year - I've tried to change my profile, hopefully increasing the profile of my sport in this country. I've been in Hello magazine a few times in the past year and have been doing everything I can do while I'm out injured.
I'm always on the go, I never stop - if there's an event to go to, to expose ski racers as professionals, then I try to do it.
So, you're now one year on, you've still got metal-work in your leg...
I will die with that metal-work in my leg, they've said...
So, what's the next step, when will you be setting foot on snow again?
A pivotal point of my rehab was last weekend when I got my boot made. I would love to sit here and say that I will ski pain-free because my boot's fantastic.
My boot is fantastic but I've realised I will never ski pain-free again. I do know that once I'm amongst the mountains, racing down then the pain will be the last thing I think about.
I need to develop about another ten degrees angle flexion so I can get that forward pressure when I ski, so it's safe. As soon as I've got that ten degrees I will go skiing; I'm thinking it will be around February this year and then I'm just going to enjoy skiing this whole winter and come back in April.
I'll go down to the Southern Hemisphere - to Chile and New Zealand - for the training.
I will ski a lot this year, as essentially it's a brand new leg and could take a lot of time to get used to it!
An Interview with a Ski Racer - Chemmy Alcott - Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
We're delighted to say that we'll have more insights and advice from Chemmy in the very near future... so keep an eye on J2Ski...
J2Ski would like to thank Chemmy for her time, and also Black Diamond and The Third Space, Soho for facilitating the interview. Thanks guys!
reply to 'An Interview with a Ski Racer - Chemmy Alcott - Part 1' posted Jan-2012
This is what she had to say regarding the skating...
Chemmy wrote:'I understand some people maybe confused at my participation on DOI 2012.
I am a rehabbing athlete who has NOT quit her first love skiing. After my horrendous crash last year ice skating is enabling me to find the link between my head and metal right leg. It is helping not hindering my rehab.
I was never going to be able to compete in ski racing this year so DOI has given me numerous opportunities including teaching me how to feel my feet, strengthening sport specific muscles and raising the profile of me and the sport I love.
Topic last updated on 05-January-2012 at 09:12