A Chat with Chemmy Alcott: Part 1
Sussex born Chemmy Alcott, 38, can only be described as a sporting national treasure. 4 Time Olympian, BBC Ski Sunday Presenter, Honorary President of Ski Club GB are to name but a few of her grand achievements spanning over her career as an alpine ski racer. We caught up with Chemmy about her journey into skiing, and what life has been like since. Ahead of the new season of the legendary BBC Ski Sunday, airing January 10th, we also discuss what it’s like to take on the presenting reigns on such an iconic show.
Hi Natasha! Life is crazy for me at the moment, a lot more admin than normal, running a European Ski Racing Club! Actually, I am just at Chatham at the moment doing some dry-slope stuff with a bunch of athletes.
How did you get into skiing?
I always say that I was made to be a Skier. We had this ski-mad family growing up. My dad was a rugby player, my mum was a swimmer. I always say I was genetically made to be a mountain goat - I got his glutes and her lungs! The other reason I think I really got into the sport is because my brothers were already doing it. I thought they were really cool and I wanted to do what they were doing! So at eighteen months old, my second Christmas, I was begging to go skiing! I did my first race at three years old. I always say I won that race but unfortunately, my Dad took twenty years to read that in multiple newspapers to tell me that I did not win that race. I disputed that because I have a teddy upstairs with a gold medal around his neck! And he said that everyone under the age of five got that teddy! I said ‘well I must have been fast because obviously, I went on to go to four Olympics’ He said no you stopped to give your videoing Daddy a kiss on the way down, which was definitely not the fastest line.
What pushed you to take skiing to professional levels?
Definitely 100% my passion for the sport. Having had quite a few injuries I knew that the grass wasn’t greener and that I was able to make a living doing something that I absolutely love. In fact, that made retirement so difficult because I just love everything about skiing. It’s being out in nature in the mountains, pushing your boundaries and your speeds physically to the limit, making incredible life long friendships. It’s a fantastic sport to compete at the highest level because instead of being jealous about those who beat you, you shake their hand and congratulate them because I guess there’s the danger element that they have gone further towards their limit than you that day. I just always just dreamt of being a ski racer. Actually, when I was younger I wanted to be a ski racer in the winter and a tennis player in the summer, I thought I could be a winter and summer Olympian! But I quickly realised that I had to be a bit more dedicated to one to achieve either.
You have spent much of your life since your retirement in 2014, what was it like to help the Ski Sunday to cover the WInter Olympics in Korea?
Covering the Winter Olympics for BBC was amazing. I was actually in the studio in Manchester whereas the team were out in the mountains, I chose that because I had a little baby, and I wasn’t able to take him over to South Korea. I didn’t know how I would react in the studio but I knew I was in the best hands because I was with my buddie Claire Balding and she just coached me through it. You know I got an amazing opportunity to really be myself in a live TV studio and it was just a fantastic environment! I probably felt more Olympic in that studio then I ever felt when I went to the Olympics because I got to watch more sports than when you are actually competing yourself.
You were a complete natural at presenting. Did it feel that way straight away?
Ah thank you, that's very sweet. Ski Sunday was always my favourite show growing up. It would have been - If someone had said to me you’re gonna get to go to four Olympics and then you’ll be a presenter on Ski Sunday, I would have said pinch me because that is just everything. I love talking, I love asking people questions, I love hearing everyone's stories and the different dynamics and the different methods that they use to reach their goals. Seeing that vulnerable side of Athletes I think is really important because it’s not an easy sport to do, so I love being able to interview my peers and my friends. But no, I definitely worked at it, I’m highly self critical every season I end it and I write to the producer and say ‘right, what can I do better?’ and thankfully I get some really good feedback, and there's always opportunities to improve, just like being an athlete.
We’ve been loving your at-home workouts, it looks like you're keeping very busy in lockdown. How have you found it?
Well actually the beginning of lockdown I actually loved! I’ve always wanted to pause in life, I’m like a swan above the water. I look calm and collected and underneath I’m just frantic and I’m just surviving with all of the workload I have. Being a business owner, being a mum, the TV presenting, being an ambassador, with everything! So actually it was really nice for a while to just take a step back and be more present in daily life, with the boys. Now though trying to run a European based travel ski race team, it is brutal. I mean, the workload in front of the computer, stalking of the travel corridors, the change of it every day. It’s been really tough but I am trying to get as many people and commit to getting as many mountain lovers to the mountains and coach them and host them as I can this year. And if it means I have to work all-nighters to do so then I will because as I said I am so fortunate to have lived a life through sport and it’s made me who I am and I just don’t want anyone to miss out on those opportunities.
Lastly, what are you looking forward to most about this season's Ski Sunday, now that you are an official presenter?
I am really excited to rise to the challenge. Graham and Ed have been a duo for so long and a few times I got to be a trio in that. I’m going to be excited to push myself to be better, to improve my skills. I love Ed, he’s amazing, he really helps bring out the best in everyone so I know I am in safe hands there. I just hope that we get to show our passion, that the Brits have the winter sports in the right way. There’s definitely a few tiers of level that we might be able to show the show from, so whether that's in Europe, in Scotland or in the Snow Domes but you know I will fight to make that as watchable as possible.