Chemmy Alcott caps comeback
CORTINA D'AMPEZZO, Italy -- Nobody bothered to call Chemmy Alcott and let her officially know that she was named to Britain's Olympic team for the Sochi Games.
And that's just fine for the London-based skier who is returning from her third major leg injury.
"I just saw in the press this morning that I was going. No one contacted me yet," Alcott told The Associated Press after World Cup downhill training Wednesday. "That's probably a good thing. Because I've got a lot to focus on. That was just my second downhill run since July."
Alcott broke her right leg for the third time in August during preseason training and only started competing again this month.
After four surgeries, Alcott now has a 15-inch (38-centimeter) nail holding the bones together inside her leg.
"It goes all the way from my ankle to my knee, and I have a few screws in there," she said. "But I'll do anything for this sport. I'll do whatever it takes."
Alcott was planning to make her World Cup return last weekend in Cortina but heavy snow wiped out those races. So the British ski team had to select her based on past performance and two Europa Cup races this month that she did not fare well in.
"I had so much support from everyone to make the team," she said. "It was tough not racing last weekend, because that was my chance to show it. But I've done it."
Since the British ski team doesn't have a downhill squad, Alcott has had to pay her own way this season. Together with British racer and future husband Douglas Crawford, she raised 34,000 pounds ($56,000) through auctions and personal sponsors.
"There's a nice satisfaction in taking so much self-responsibility into doing your fundraising," Alcott said. "We had great support. ... Things are starting to come together."
Just last week, she got a new helmet sponsor, the British charity "Dream it, Believe it, Achieve it" -- not a bad tagline for a skier who has persevered through so much.
"She's worked so hard, I'm really a big proponent of giving athletes after injury a chance," said U.S. skier Julia Mancuso, one of Alcott's best friends on the circuit.
Mancuso led downhill training. Alcott was 49th.
"It really helps having (Alcott) around," Mancuso said. "She's so positive. I think everyone on the World Cup has a story about her, no matter what team, so I think everyone is really happy she's back."
Sochi will be the fourth Olympics for the 31-year-old Alcott.
Her best Olympic result was 11th in the downhill at the 2006 Turin Games, the best performance at the games by a British female skier since 1968.
Turin was also the last time Alcott had her entire family on hand. Her mother died just after the games.
Wednesday was also bittersweet for Alcott because Crawford was not named to Britain's team.
"My heart is torn today, because I made it and he didn't," she said.
The only other British Alpine skier who will go to Sochi is 27-year-old David Ryding, who won the second-tier Europa Cup slalom title last season.
"He's a great guy and he has massive work ethic and I'm really looking forward to being his teammate," Alcott said.
Since she's essentially a one-woman team, Alcott has been training with the Norwegian women. And she has returned the favor by also coaching the Norwegians as a sort of "player-coach," as she puts it.
"I've found it really satisfying, and the girls have skied unbelievably," Alcott said.
But her post-skiing career more likely lies in TV commentating, as evidenced by her recent work for Eurosport.
"I like to keep my head in the game. And I think it's really important to keep looking at the skiing and what's fast right now and what's working," she said. "And I really enjoy doing it. That's something maybe for the future."
For now, there are four races in four days in Cortina. Then Sochi. Then her wedding on June 6.
"Every Olympic experience is different. I've gone into every one with a different potential, and different goals," Alcott said. "And I'm so thankful to make Sochi. It's just showing that you can fight back from anything and adversity doesn't have to set you back."