How did you become interested in skiing?
Chemmy Alcott: ‘I’ve always said that I was born to be a skier. My mother was a swimmer and my father was a ski racer so I say that I have my father’s guts and my mother’s lungs! I’m the youngest of a big family, so by the time I was born my eldest brother had been talent scouted by the French ski school so he was already racing, so I just followed him into the sport.’
Why did you choose skiing over other winter sports?
‘I’ve always loved skiing. I got my first skis when I was three years old. It’s always been about alpine skiing, I love how it’s about searching for speed and pushing yourself. To have a job where everyday you get to go out there and be stronger and push yourself harder and be faster is an incredible opportunity. The slopes are my office, and an office which I share with my best friends. I used to play tennis when I was younger and it got to the stage where it was very aggressive. You fought very hard against the person you played against, whereas in skiing, because you’re racing against the mountain, because of the danger aspect, you form really strong friendships.’
What is your training schedule like?
‘The training’s tough but I’m one of those people who likes that. I always want to go to bed knowing I’ve done everything I could to be better that day. It’s great too because it’s very diverse in ski racing so it’s not just all weights. You have to have a high level of endurance because you’re spending six months at altitude and it’s always different. You do a lot of cross-training – spinning classes, yoga, I’ve even joined an adult netball team!’
What happens in the summer?
‘Come July, you’ve done all your physical training, and you go down to the southern hemisphere – Chile, New Zealand, Argentina, those are the main spots for summer training. When I tell people I’ve done seasons in Australia, they don’t believe they have mountains there – but they’re really good!’
As a four-time Olympian, could you share some memorable experiences from the games?
‘All the Olympics were amazing. The Turin Olympics was the best I ever skied. I was ranked about 100th in the world and until the last bit I was in 3rd position. That was also a very memorable race emotionally because it was the last time my family was all together. My mum passed away just after that Olympics. But again Sotchi this year, just six months after I last broke my leg, after 1048 minutes of general anaesthetic having my leg patched together, and with just four minutes of skiing before the games, I managed to come 19th and was less than two seconds off the leader, so that was another incredible performance.’
‘In sports like skiing, there’s such a thin line between success and disaster. One day you’ll be on the top of the podium and flying through life, and the next you might be out of the sport for years with a broken neck or leg or back, so it’s about enjoying every moment. I had to overcome quite a lot of adversity in my career, but I always took myself back to the reason I got into the sport, and it wasn’t to make a living out of it, or because other people wanted me to do it, it was because I just genuinely loved to ski.’
Which is your favourite resort?
‘I don’t really have a favourite resort. I love the diversity of living in London and being able to visit so many different resorts – we have access to the whole of Europe. I think it’s more about how the snow is and who you’re with than it is about the big glitzy resorts, but having said that I love Verbier, Whistler, Valle Nevado in Chile. I love skiing in Italy too. It’s a great environment for skiing – it doesn’t have the biggest lifts or the best systems, but there’s something about Italians and the passion they have for skiing.’
Are there skiwear trends you’ve spotted on the slopes this season?
‘Colours are very much out there. Clashing and as fluoro as you can go. I’ve noticed a lot of fake fur on the slopes, which I quite like. It makes you look a little trendy!’
Do you collect anything in the way of art/antiques?
‘I’ve got a set of vintage skis from 1968 which I collected in Bulgaria when I was there once, and I’ve got a new mini chalet section of the house with some Charlie Adam art – the artist from the Alps who does cartoon ski art.’
Which are your favourite posters from the upcoming Ski Sale?
‘I love the snow trains (lot 157). This is how I feel when I get to the mountains, it looks like they are rushing to the snow! The first copy of a poster I ever bought was the Chamonix ski jump (lot 182). I love the angelic jump position amidst the towering mountains.’