S2 Episode 1 - Pushing Boundaries: Mountain Mummy & Olympian Skier Chemmy Alcott


An inspirational mum of two, wife and BBC Ski Sunday Presenter…and, wait for it, 4x Olympian skier used to hurtling herself down mountains at 92mph. Regarded as Britain’s greatest ever female skier, Chemmy Alcott put her stake in the ground by becoming the first British Alpine Ski racer to win a world cup run.


Chemmy on becoming a Mother:

I was looking forward to become a mother to feel a bit more fear in my life and to go “these are my boundaries, and now that Ii'm responsible for two amazing little human beings, I won't push myself so far”. But, it didn't happen. And I'm proud that it didn't happen because I haven't changed as a person. l've seen a lot of mothers live through their kids, and thats fantastic if that's what they want to do. A lot of people lose their identity, who they were before children and feel guilty for finding that identity. I never let pre-baby Chemmy go. I went back to work two weeks after having kids which is not recommended, especially skiing, but I didn't want to give my job at BBC Ski Sunday away. I wanted to prove more to myself than the team, I could do it. But I remember my first labor not going to plan and talking about a C-section and my response being “I can't have a C-section, I need to ski in 2 weeks!” Which is not what most mothers would say. Obviously I was putting my son's health behind mine at that point because of all the medication and I would have had a C-section if it had been necessary. 

I was skiing 2 weeks afterwards and I think it was my ego. I have an ego from being a downhill ski racer. It helps me to be my very best. And other times, it does stand in the way. But I am very good at being honest about that.

Chemmy on returning to work after childbirth and other women returning to skiing:

There's a really horrendous stat that is that if you have skied your whole life, and then you have children and then don't ski within the first five years of your children being born, then the stats are really high to say you'll never go ski again. Which is really disastrous because it's something you're passionate about. And it's not just about skiing in this situation. It's about getting out there and being who you were before and being confident enough to say I can still be that woman and it’s okay to go out there and deal with the guilt. 

I remember going back to work post-babies and when I was working I wanted to be with my kids and when I was with my kids I was jealous of everyone working and it’s about finding that balance. I realized early on that I'm a better Mum because I went back to work early.  I’m more present around my children and when I'm at work with blinkers on, this is me, and then when I come home, I'm very present with my children. My kids watch me on TV and I remember hearing my son tell his friends that his Mummy had skied faster than we were allowed to drive and I thought these sacrifices that i'm making are worthwhile because he's inspired, he's proud of me, and I think in the end that's what you want from your kids.

Chemmy on how she deals with fluctuating hormones and training:

At different times in the month, I slow things down and do more yoga and pilates. I've got a really weak groin area, and so when there’s something going on in my lady parts, I pull muscles really easily, so I change my training a lot. I use the GlowYoga app and it will find a programme which addresses that emotion or that pain that you’re currently feel; it’s amazing. I also love someone else training me as you're following a routine and you have to do what you need to do because someone's telling you to do it and you don't have to think about it. At night I'll often do some kind of training to slow my body down and think about what I need to address, what parts do I need to address?

Chemmy on how her exercise has changed as she has gotten older:

Training of old was the more I sweat, the more I grunt, the harder it is, the better it is. I rarely do that kind of session anymore. I do HIIT training, but I really listen to when my body feels good enough to do that because it is quite intense on not just your physical system, but your nervous system as well. I bought pilates into my life only in the last ten years and it's something that I very much regret not doing earlier because I had no control of my body. I basically had either my muscles are switched on or my muscles are switched off. Now, I really listen to my body and what it needs.

Chemmy on her ski career:

I was five years old when I had a dream that I won the olympics and I ran downstairs to tell everyone that I had this great dream. My parents made me draw a picture of the dream and I didn't really understand why. But a few years later, I said to my Mum it's getting quite tough now I'm making all these sacrifices, I feel like I'm losing friendships, and she said “remember that dream you had and that picture you drew? That's why you're doing it!” It really helped me look at the bigger picture, that this little girl had a dream to be her very best. 

It’s hard as a female athlete, as there is a horrendous culture where young girls don't want to be seen as trying in sport because it's not cool. If you're ambitious and confident enough to say “I want this”, you're not received well. You're received as someone who's arrogant. Whereas when the young boy says, that we say “Amazing to have that confidence, great dream, go get it!”. And girls don't think they can be like that. 

Chemmy on her enforced career change and loss of identity:

It's really challenging; there's a loss of identity when you change careers. I spent twenty years trying to win the gold and I didn't win any colour of medal, but I was still defined by being Chemmy the Ski Racer. That was who I was every single day, I woke up thinking how can I be better, stronger, faster today? That was my ethos, and then it's like oh my gosh, I don’t have that any more. I don't have goals, I don't have that identity, who am I? A lot of female athletes get pregnant straight away because they know that they're already wearing another hat, they’re already defined by being a mother. But I didn't want to do that because I wanted to learn who I was away from being a downhill ski racer as it had been such a big part of my life for so long.

That transitional period is the same for anyone, whatever world you're moving from, it takes a whole lot of guts to believe that you can shut the door on one thing, that's been such a big part of your life and open another door.  So many people get trapped in doing something that doesn't make them happy and the world is very short. I really learned about going and grasping things and going out and putting myself out there when my mum passed away. I was twenty-two when she died and I realized how precious life was and since then I've been ready to force open doors open and wedge my foot inside. I always knew I wanted to get into TV, I love talking and I'm really passionate about it so I knew it was a natural progression for me. I was very lucky that Ski Sunday gave me a role presenting women's racing. It is really my dream; when I was five and I wanted to win the Olympics, I was already obsessed with Ski Sunday. It was the one time in the week where my whole family would get together and watch it.

Chemmy on supplements:

Supplement wise, I take two. I take Selaura which I absolutely love for maintaining a stable emotional wellbeing. I never thought that nutrition and supplements would help with that as I thought that comes from inside but I’ve noticed that I used to be very high and low throughout the month, it affected my work because premenstrual I would get brain fog all the time and since Selaura I'm so neutral throughout the month which is lovely because you don't wake up fearing how you're going to be because I know to expect this Chemmy and this Chemmy always delivers. 

I take CBD for leg pain in the morning and at night and sometimes I take active iron as well if my iron is low and that's just something and i know. It’s about having that knowledge to follow your own path. If you believe what you're taking is helping, if it's psychosomatic, there's no issues with that.

Chemmy’s top tip:

Every day when I go to bed, I try and think of three things that I've done well today, three things that I've achieved. Sometimes they are physical, sometimes they're mental, sometimes they're professional, other times they're family orientated but three things that I can pat myself on the back and go I've done that well. And then three opportunities for tomorrow. How can I be better tomorrow than I was today? And that might be getting up five minutes earlier, having a shower, having a body scan. And then really importantly is one thing that made me laugh. Whatever it is, one thing, what did I do today that I had a giggle about. Now it might not be an external giggle but you might have been in a meeting and someone said something that made you feel warm inside. With that, you know that every day you're growing, every day you're giving yourself the chance to be a better version of you.