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It's a family affair for GB's Chemmy Alcott

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Eleanor Oldroyd Eleanor Oldroyd | 01:27 UK time, Wednesday, 17 February 2010

So what do you do if you're on a skiing trip and the weather's too bad to get onto the slopes?

Well, you sit around in a nice café in the resort and chill out over a coffee or two. Even if you're Britain's top skier, Chemmy Alcott.

Day five of the Winter Olympics, and only one event has been completed in the Alpine skiing here in Whistler - the men's downhill.

Warm temperatures and slushy snow held everything up at the start of the games, and overnight it snowed hard again at the top of the mountain, so on Tuesday the men's super combined was postponed and the last chance of a training run in the women's downhill was cancelled.

So, I joined Chemmy and her family for a cappuccino in the centre of Whistler village.

Chemmy and Rebecca
Chemmy enjoys a break with her two-year-old niece Rebecca in Whistler

She's supported out here by her New York-based brother Alex, his wife Heather, their two-year-old daughter Rebecca, and Heather's mum Rosemary. Also her other brother Rufus, wife Alex and two-year-old son Bodeun. And cousins Kristina and Annika. And friends Pauline and Jon (don't think I've forgotten anybody....)

Little Rebecca is as cute as anything in her pink ski suit, and is becoming an expert in puddle jumping - plenty of them around in warm Whistler. With a bit of prompting I got her to give me a rousing rendition of "Go Chemmy!"

She'll be with the rest of Team Alcott at Whistler Creekside for the downhill on Wednesday, and for as many events as they can squeeze in over the next 10 days.

Chemmy will go into the first big event having only skied the course once - and even that nearly didn't happen.

Her Olympic journey was in danger of ending at the start gate even before it began.

"I was putting my ski on for the training run and my back binding broke, so with 20 seconds to go I had one ski on in the start, and if you don't do a training run you can't actually race in the Olympics," she said.

"I had amazing support staff up there and they managed to change a binding in 30 seconds, something which usually takes about 15 minutes."

Even with such minimal preparation time, Alcott is remarkably relaxed about the prospect of tackling Franz's Run - the Creekside course which sounds, frankly, terrifying.

"In the Olympics they're supposed to put out the toughest course you've ever had, and they definitely nailed it this time. There were girls up there crying in the finish area, they were just so scared.

"It's kind of like having an ocean of waves that have frozen and you've got to go at 80 miles an hour on them. Usually our pistes are like baby's bottoms, smooth and perfect.

"But this is the way I like it. It's really challenging, but it's going to be a really good race."

And clearly Team Alcott are a useful distraction as she waits for the big day to dawn.

"If you have these days off you can't get frustrated, you can't sit there on your own," she said. "I get to spend time with these guys and I don't see them much, so it's been really nice."


  • Comment number 1.

    Chemmy seems very nice.

  • Comment number 2.

    It'll be nice to actually see a bit of skiing as long as the weather holds out. Still been a great winter olympics so far but I'm looking forward to seeing how Chemmy gets on and I'm sure she'll do herself proud. On a side note though what happens if the weather continues to play up? Will events be cancelled and if so what events are likely to go first?

  • Comment number 3.

    Brilliant it sounds like you are having a lovely time along with the rest of the BBC team at the licence payers expense.

    You even outnumber our competitors. Enjoy the rest of your holiday.

    Oh yes and good luck Chemmy

  • Comment number 4.

    Oh and congratulations to the BBC for the excellent coverage we've seen at the Games so far. I watched a bit on Eurosport the other night and the coverage and commentary was so poor it actually took some of the enjoyment away from watching the action. The great coverage from the Beeb is definitely appreciated here.

  • Comment number 5.


    I should hope the coverage is excellent considering the amount of people they have over there!!!

  • Comment number 6.

    I'm not too bothered how many people they have over there, I don't really care about paying my tv license. I think we get good value for money out of it so I don't see what the big deal is. I'd rather pay that and get the quality of service we get than settle for the rubbish that's served up by some of the other channels. Could or should they have sent less people over there? Haven't got a clue and isn't of any concern to me. As long as the coverage is great which it is I'm a happy chappy.

    As for the number of bbc personnel there outnumbering the amount of British competitors that's not a great surprise. They have to cover every event but we don't send competitors over for every event. Imagine how boring the coverage would be if they only covered the ones where the Brits were involved? We'd miss out on some great action so I don't see why the two should be linked.

    Getting back to Chemmy I don't see her medaling but if she can get a top 10 finish I think she will have done really well. You never know her run could be at exactly the right moment when the slope's at it's best and she could get even higher. But as I said in my original post as long as she goes and gives it her all she'll have done herself and everyone else proud.

  • Comment number 7.

    The BBC provides better highlights of the Winter Olympics than any other broadcaster in the world, full stop. My Canadian girlfriend doesn't get coverage this good.

    As far as I am concerned the licence fee is worth every penny as the quality of journalist broadcasting is second to none. If anything I'd like even more sports coverage and for the BBC to make their services available worldwide as I'm moving to Canada soon.

    You just don't know how lucky you are. Britain is the best country in the world. Stop whinging.


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