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Soul searching: Chemmy Alcott

The alpine ski racer on her family values, beating the boys and the dangers of her profession. By Susan Swarbrick.

When I was seven ...

I was racing against the boys and beating them which made me slightly unpopular. When I was that young, I didn’t realise there were gender rules. It was always girls vs boys – and no excuses. I’m sure that was annoying for them.

The first time my heart was broken ...

When my grandad died, when I was a teenager. I was away at school in America and ski racing. My family didn’t want to hurt me or mess up my focus, so they waited until I was back so it meant I missed a lot of the mourning period. I was sad about that, but it’s very difficult as a parent to tell your children that they have lost a loved one. There’s so much danger involved in skiing, you can’t mess with that focus. 

The wisest thing my grandmother told me ...

To never be scared to be who I am. I knew I wanted to be a ski racer from a young age and I think that can be quite unattractive when someone knows exactly what they want to do and are so fiercely obsessed with that goal. I used to try to be a bit blase about it, but my grandmother told me to stick to my guns and keep my self belief.

The biggest adversity I have overcome ...

I should say breaking my neck when I was younger, but it was such a long time ago now and I healed quickly. Emotionally, it was when my mum passed away after the 2006 Olympics in Turin. Physically, it was breaking my leg in 2010 because I was so close to achieving everything I had set out to do.

My motto for life ...

It’s an Eleanor Roosevelt quote: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

My soul mate is ...

My boyfriend, Dougie Crawford. He’s from Glasgow and a ski racer too. Being a ski racer you need to have a quite unique temperament and be prepared to go out there, push your body to the limit and sacrifice everything. To meet a kindred spirit, who you love, is the best thing.

Not many people know that ...

I like quiet time because I tend to be loud and vivacious. I have this reputation as a real party girl, but I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve stayed up past 10pm in the last year.

The most inspiring book I’ve read was ...

The Pearl by John Steinbeck. It’s not inspiring as such, but it’s my favourite book and reading it always puts me in a happy place.

What I look for in a friend is ...

Someone fun, competitive and chatty.

If ever I feel lonely I ...

Put some happy music on. I’m very influenced by music: whether to get me in an aggressive mood for the start gate or simply chill out while driving.

Something I wish I’d done earlier ...

Learned to surf. My best friend Julia Mancuso, who is a triple Olympic medallist skier, got me into it. It’s an amazing sport and sort of like the water version of skiing because you are out there with nature. It takes guts to paddle into big waves. I first started when I was 15 but because I didn’t do it when I was really young I think I missed out a bit on that aspect.

I believe the secret to a strong relationship is ...

I knew Dougie was perfect for me when I realised that, when we wake up in the morning, we want to do the same things. We are in sync when it comes to our hobbies and what we are passionate about.

My all-time favourite YouTube clip ...

When I was doing Dancing on Ice last year we had a lot of down time so myself and Hollyoaks actress Jorgie Porter would spend hours on YouTube. We watched loads of funny animal videos – one of my favourites is the sneezing panda.

My childhood hero was ...

After my mum passed away it became her because looking back I could see all the amazing things she did for me. When I was younger, though, it Alberto Tomba aka “Tomba La Bomba”, the eccentric ski racer who put the sport on the map.

He was such a character and entertainer. The first time I met him, though, he put his telephone number in my hand and I was like: “No, don’t ruin it.” I’ve done a few events with him since. He’s a great guy. Has he mellowed with age? Nah, he’s just as crazy.

The place I most like to call home ...

My little cottage in Hampton Court, London. It’s like a house from The Hobbit and I love it.

Chemmy Alcott will be competing at the FIS Alpine Ski World Championships in Austria from February 5-14. Visit www.chemmyalcott.com

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