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An interview with Chemmy Alcott OLY

Chemmy Alcott is a former British World Cup alpine ski racer. She has competed in all five disciplines: downhill, super G, giant slalom and combined. She has many amazing achievements including being the 'Senior British National Champion' seven times and 'Overall British Ladies Champion' eight times. She has competed in four Winter Olympic Games and seven FIS World Championships and has many other outstanding achievements.

She retired from national competition in 2014 due to injury. She suffered from a double fracture of her right leg when she crashed training for the World Cup downhill race. Chemmy has a zest for life and a bubbly personality and loves everything to do with the snow and skiing.

She is currently a presenter on the BBCs 'Ski Sunday', definitely the highlight of my week -watching her present on Sunday evenings from one of many beautiful Alpine locations!

I have been extremely lucky to be able to interview Chemmy about various aspects of her career. I find Chemmy an extremely inspirational athlete and I have looked up to her since I was little girl when I first ventured out on the blue slopes of Chamonix. It is therefore an incredible opportunity and a dream of mine to be able to interview her. I am still fangirling over this interview and the chance I had to ask her these questions!

These answers are all in Chemmy's own words!

When did you first develop your love for skiing?

'I can't remember a time when I didn't ski. I started at 18 months old. It's the freedom of being out there on the mountain and choosing your path ahead of you, whether thats a literal path of how you're going to turn down the ski slope, or how straight your going to go, or how fast your going to go, what tricks your going to do. Or a metaphorical path: how far do you want to go, how much can this sport help you be the very best you can be. I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to live the life skiing and still do with Ski Sunday and I know that I am the luckiest girl in the world because of it. To have your passion a part of your job and from being a competitor to a pundit on TV is absolutely surreal.'

Who in the sports world inspires you?

' I think Lindsey Vonn is amazing. She never over thought any of her injuries. She had an incredible world class support team around her. Which for me coming from the UK, trying to be a ski-racer, did not have access to. But, she stood in that start gate every time regardless of what had happened in the past and believed that she can win and she charged like she would win. That was incredible. I actually used to imitate Lindsey Vonn, so when I came back from injuries I would stand at the start gate and think - how would Lindsey be feeling what would she be doing, how would she carry herself. That really helped me.'

What advice would you give your younger self?

'There's no such thing as perfect. I think I spent a big chunk of my childhood and my early years as a racer trying to be perfect and skiing is not the sport for that. I wish I had the confidence to risk more and get out of my comfort zone because although I was the best in Britain I wasn't achieving my full potential because I had a massive fear of failure and fear of letting people down because a lot of people invested a lot emotionally and financially in my career. That weighed on me so I always skied at 80% and I just wish I had the confidence earlier in my career when I was young, healthy and talented to go all out and see what I was capable of.'

How did you overcome your injuries physically and mentally?

' I think injuries are more mental than they are physical. Physically you know you'll always heal if you listen to the physios and listen to the doctors. If you keep yourself doing your rehab you know that you will be back. Your body can bounce back. It's mentally - that we don't take as much care of ourselves, especially when we are injured. When you've had a goal set and then a goal is ripped away from you and you think about healing you definitely put your physical needs first. But, actually it's the mental needs that take longer to heal and the scars mentally that form are deeper rooted and need to be focused on a lot more.'

'I remember as soon as I was healthy I thought I could try and get back to racing. I never took the time to mentally address what I had been through, the stress that I was putting my body under, the risk that I was about to take and the fact that I was putting myself out there to be injured again. I think there are some athletes who are incredibly talented at coming back from injury and just staying in the present and not thinking about the past- like Lindsey Vonn. That was very inspirational to me. But, I think I knew that I was coming back after injury, that I was not as strong as my peers so I tried to do more to compensate for it by charging faster and perhaps that wasn't the correct way.'

It was such a privilege to interview Chemmy (one of my sporting heroes) and to discover more about her and her achievements and how she overcame challenges in her alpine skiing career.

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