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Alcott set to reach Sochi the hard way

British skier Chemmy Alcott makes a turn during the Women's World Cup Super-G skiing race in Lake Louise, Alberta, December 2, 2012. REUTERS
British skier Chemmy Alcott makes a turn during the Women's World Cup Super-G skiing race in Lake Louise, Alberta, December 2, 2012. REUTERS

By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - British skier Chemmy Alcott trains so hard that she can barely crawl out of the gym - a sacrifice the 31-year-old makes as she faces a race against time to make the Sochi Olympics after re-breaking her right leg in August.

Now with what she describes as a "nail through the bone marrow from the ankle to the knee" inserted in her battle-scarred limb, Alcott says she is winning her battle to be at the start gate in Russia.

It has not been an easy ride since the Vancouver Olympics where she competed in all five Alpine disciplines and finished 11th in the super-combined, matching her result in Turin four years earlier in the downhill.

In late 2010 she was left with bone sticking out of her skin after a high-speed crash at Lake Louise, Canada and needed so much ketamine (painkiller) that she cannot remember anything about the career-threatening accident.

Days later she found out UK Sport was ending funding of Alpine skiing, leaving a 60,000 pounds hole in her pocket.

So despite re-breaking the leg earlier this year, London-born Alcott now treats adversity with a shrug of her shoulders.

"I have niggles in my knee where the metalwork goes up to but I've been able to control that with kinesio tape so I'm really happy with where things are," Alcott, Britain's most successful Alpine skier with five top 10 finishes in the World Cup, told Reuters by phone from her St Moritz training base.

"I love pain, I love going to the gym and not being able to walk out, crawling out, that's my personality. I always do things to extreme. I'm the perfect re-habber really.

"I'm actually trying to rein myself back because I get over-excited and even on the slopes now it's hard for me to take baby steps because I always want to push the limit.

"The leg is so much further along than I thought it would be at this time when I broke my leg in August."

Downhill and giant slalom specialist Alcott, now training with the Norwegian team having previously worked with the Canadians, said being cast adrift by UK Sport made her even more determined to compete at Sochi.

"I've never thought of quitting," Alcott said

"I've sacrificed so much to get to Sochi, whether that be with funding or physically, nothing will hold me back and at the end of the day I love to ski which is why any work I put in and the sacrifices I make pale into insignificance."

Coming from a country with no heritage in Alpine sports, Alcott has long since stopped worrying about plaudits, preferring the respect of the Europeans and north Americans whom she competes alongside on equal terms.

"It's a bit sad (lack of recognition in Britain), but the other girls on the World Cup know how much I fight to be competing with them," said Alcott who probably got more exposure as a celebrity on the Dancing on Ice TV show.

"They have everything given to them but appreciate the struggles I go through."

Alcott says Sochi will definitely be her fourth and last Olympics and when she does hang up the race suit, she believes her recent experiences have given her plenty of options.

"I've learned so much about the business world, branding myself and marketing myself, approaching sponsors with self belief," she said.

"I spoke at a Women in Business conference a while ago and it made me realize I'm quite good at it.

"I've learned a lot about the big bad world out there."

For now though it's all about getting up to speed on her skis and making sure that when she arrives in Sochi she will not just be making up the numbers.

"If I didn't think I was fast I wouldn't be putting all this effort into getting back," she said.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Justin Palmer)

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