Arnie Wilson writes:
Chemmy Alcott, Britain’s most famous and successful female World Cup alpine ski racer, started skiing when she was just 18 months old on a family holiday in Flaine, France and first raced at the age of three.
Since that day she has skied in four Winter Olympics, and was the first Briton to win a run in a World Cup giant-slalom.
Even though she retired from competitive racing in 2014, she says skiing remains “everything to me”. She has certainly not eased up on her skiing schedule, in spite of giving birth to a baby boy, Lochlan – better known as Locki – in January 2017.
Not only a BBC TV ski commentator, now she also has a business, Carpe Diem Coaching, organising ski training camps with her husband, 25-times former British ski champion Dougie Crawford. And this coming March she is hosting a heli-ski trip to Alagna, just south of Monte Rosa. “I can't wait!” she says.
Chemmy, who was named after Sophia Loren's character in the 1961 film El Cid says: “I can't remember a time when skiing wasn't part of my life. Thirty three years or so after I first learnt to ski, our world still revolves around the mountains.”
In 1993 she won the Etoile D'Or French Village Ski Championships, became a member of the British Junior Alpine team in 1994 and won the 1995 Sunday Times Junior Sportswoman of the Year award. She herself will be a judge at the next awards.
She would compete in all five disciplines: downhill, Super G, Giant Slalom, Slalom, and Combined. She raced in four Winter Olympics Games and seven FIS World Championships. She was overall Senior British National Champion seven times and British Ladies Champion eight times.
“But it all started at 18 months for me, with a retired rugby playing father and a swimmer for a mother” she says. “My genetics meant I was made to be a skier (big glutes and efficient lungs!)”.
Despite living in London, every summer from the age of 11 to 19 she travelled to New Zealand to train in their winter. “I spent every holiday and even some weekends mastering the art” she says. “Firstly in Flaine, France and then wherever racing took me - from New Zealand, to Chile, to the snowdome in Dubai - and just about everywhere in between.
“CDC Performance Ski Camps - the ski coaching business I’ve been running for the last four years with my husband Dougie for two-thirds of the year - is a success because of our mutual passion and respect for the snowy white peaks” she says. (It’s short for Carpe Diem Coaching, not Chemmy Dougie Coaching!)
“We try to help the young skiers go home happy and confident, rather than being a conveyor belt for fast skiers. At CDC we try to change the way the world thinks about sport. It’s not just about winning or losing - it's a journey teaching you skills to deal with the rollercoaster ride of life!”
“Skiing is still and will always be my raison d'être!” No doubt Locki will follow in his celebrated parents’ ski-steps - how could he not? In fact he already has! “Locki 'skied' at 14 months in Tignes and then in Flaine with Dougie and me” says Chemmy. “Well, I say skied - he had boots and skis on and we kind of held him up.”
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