Friday, 5 October 2012

Why you should fight your fear of skiing

As ambassador for Monarch, I want to encourage everyone to fight their fear and get out on their skis.
Skiing is a sport that can be thrilling, exciting and scary. With so many benefits, don’t let fear stand in the way of experiencing this exhilarating sport.
Chemmy Alcott - ski ambassador for Monarch Airlines


Lots of people think they have missed the boat to try this fabulous sport of skiing – they may think they are too old, not fit enough or might get hurt. And yes there is a chance that could happen. But age – that is just an excuse – technology has advanced so greatly that the new skis make it easy to learn!
Last year I helped teach a 78 year old man ski for the first time – he is now almost a pro! He has non-skiing children but fanatical grand kids whose passion to learn to ski was somewhat problematic with their parents, so this grandad decided to face his fears, step up to the plate and take one for the team. The grandfather now takes his kids’ kids on a ski holiday every year!


Not sure if you’re fit enough? Well that is all about preparation before you go – the fitter you are, the more you will get out of your holiday. Worried that you’re injury prone? When I was injured, I tested my personal boundaries that day and I pushed it too far but that is how we learn, we evolve and improve as human beings. You’ll learn your own limits in no time and you’ll build your confidence with lessons and experience.
Monarch Airlines ski ambassador Chemmy Alcott skiing

The dreaded cold

Think you are too much of a hot weather person to enjoy a ski holiday – think again! The cold in the mountains feels fresh – it gives your cheeks a healthy glow and the rest of your body is cosy, wrapped up in layers and your feet. You can even have mini electric blankets added to your ski boots so you have toasty feet! If all this doesn’t help you can nip into a quaint mountain hut and grab a hot chocolate (or a few gluhweins – safety first though – don’t forget you have to ski down afterwards!)
Basically I am urging you not to be scared off skiing by fear. Embrace it, accept it, BUT please don’t let it put you off trying it.

Where I started

I was 18 months old when I skied for the first time. I would love to say I fell in love with the sport from that first day but truthfully I can’t remember it. But I do remember WINNING! Yes, my first memory in life was winning a teddy bear with a medal round its neck in my first race when I was just three years old.
Chemmy's teddybear sporting her first ski race medal
I originally took up the sport because my brothers, 4 and 8 years older loved it and I thought they were ‘cool’ so I copied them at most things. That day I raced was MY day – I remember feeling free, no one nagging me, no one telling me what to do – I was controlling my destiny! That sense of freedom, especially at that young an age can be quite addictive and it is still a huge driving force in my snowy career.
Don’t get me wrong though or put me on some kind of ski pedestal – despite doing this for almost 3 decades, there are still ups and downs, sacrifices and rewards.

How I deal with fear

Sometimes the things you worry about the most are actually the things that cause you the least problems. Take the emotion that causes us as human being’s the most sleepless nights – FEAR. For me there has been a lot of chat with respect to my comeback to skiing about this dreaded fear – journalists awkwardly trying to re-phrase the question “Won’t you be scared? How will you handle it?” Well to be honest skiing to me is as normal an activity as walking is to most people. There has been a gaping hole in my life for the months I was forced off the slopes.
Having welcomed turning 30 this summer and knowing that, yes I started walking 29 years ago, but I also started skiing 28 1/2 years ago gave me the confidence to know that despite the time off, I would not come back rusty. Skiing is actually a very natural sport (if you ignore crushing your feet into far too small plastic boots and squeezing your body into a lycra all-in-one!) gravity pulls you downhill; all you need to do is aim your skis in the right directions and you will fly.
Chemmy Alcott as a child
Well, yes, I am aware I am simplifying this very technical sport greatly and yes, at the World Cup level it is possibly one of the most complex sports in the world in terms of how to be one hundredths of a second faster than your peers. Essentially I have found from personal experience I ski best when I simplify things – over-thinking what we do, how we do it – that is very dangerous and has resulted in many a career hurtling on a downward spiral!
So back to fear. Simply – that first time I skied since my accident – well, I just shut the door on it. No, thank you, NOT today! Today is just about me being back to doing what I love doing.
Maybe just maybe making the brave (somewhat crazy some may say) decision to aim for my first World Cup race on the very piste that tried (and failed) to end my career almost 2 years ago is a bizarre decision. And maybe, maybe on November the 29th when I go to sleep before that first race fear will come knocking once again at my door….
Who knows? But all I can do is be prepared for it and once again try and force it away!
If you’re keen to give skiing a go, visit the Monarch ski site to browse flights and other useful information!
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