Chemmy Alcott set for World Cup return at scene of horror leg break

By Nick HopeBBC Olympic sports reporter
Alcott on leg fracture comeback

"I heard my scream, which was a horrible sound," Chemmy Alcott said. "It was a sound I'd never heard before and I never want to again."

Alcott cannot bring herself to watch the footage of the "brutal" collision during downhill training two years ago which left her with a bone protruding from her lower right leg.

The British skier has limited memory of the crash, owing in part to the doses of a strong painkiller she was administered shortly after the accident.

She has heard audio of the crash, but Alcott has no desire to relive the experience visually.

"I'm not a sadistic skier," the 30-year-old told BBC Sport.

"I do [motivational] speeches and it's actually quite empowering to say, 'I'm going to show you the crash now' and then I actually walk out of the room."

Alcott, who has experienced numerous injuries since beginning her race career aged eight,external-link continued; "When I broke my neck and my back on jumps I remembered it so I had to re-program my brain because I knew I had to go off that jump again.

"Because of the memory loss, I have decided not to address the actual crash and just go back with the good feelings of the hill."

The venue was Lake Louise in Canada and this week Alcott will make an emotional return to World Cup racing on the same slope where in 2010 her career nearly ended.

Special boot sets up Alcott comeback

"I think that a lot of people don't understand that decision," admitted Alcott, "but it wasn't the fault of the hill.

"Making my comeback there is probably quite crazy but I love Lake Louise. It's a fantastic hill on the women's World Cup tour and I'm really excited to go back and race there."

Alcott's optimistic mood is in stark contrast to the emotions she experienced upon her return to the UK in late 2010.

In the same week she began her recuperation following surgery to have metal supports inserted into her injured leg, Alcott was reduced to tears after learning during an interview with the BBC that she was losing her £60,000 athlete funding.

It followed the decision by UK Sport to axe all support for alpine skiing in the build-up to Sochi 2014.

"It wasn't even about the money, it was about being written off as an athlete in my prime," reflected Alcott, who has five top-10 World Cup finishes to her name.

"The federationexternal-link [British Ski and Snowboard] chose not to support me, but all I can do about that is use it as a chip on my shoulder to go out there to prove them wrong and show I will succeed without them."

Dave Edwards, British Ski and Snowboard chief executive, has not ruled out funding for Alcott in the future but explained BSS's position.

He said: "UK Sport were not prepared to fund our alpine athletes because they have not, thus far, demonstrated an ability to win Olympic medals and cannot demonstrate a development programme that points towards them winning medals in the immediate future.

"We are very hopeful that Chemmy will be able to demonstrate a full return to fitness during the next few weeks and months.

"When she has done so we will be very keen to examine how we can use our meagre resources to support her. Her return from a very serious injury is a truly inspiring story."

Alcott missed the entire 2011-12 ski season but was able to combine rehabilitation training with a money-spinning appearance on Dancing on Ice in 2011.

There were concerns that the TV programme could threaten her recovery from injury, but Alcott felt it was far from an "unnecessary risk".

"I knew my leg was strong enough for ice skating and I knew that I couldn't ski so for me it was a no-brainer," said the three-time Olympian.

"From that show I wanted my ankle and my leg to get stronger and I wanted a bigger profile to get a head sponsor and I ticked both of those boxes.

"I came out of the show less injured than when I went in."

While in the UK, Alcott has been training in Guildford and on the slopes with the Canadian skiing team ahead of her comeback.

The pairing has produced some promising results, with the skier getting two top-10 finishesexternal-link at an event in Copper Mountain in the United States for her first competitive return.

"What's nice right now is that apart from my great sponsors and my family for putting me back together, I'm skiing for myself," said Alcott, who missed the season's opening World Cup giant slalom in Soeldenexternal-link last month.

"I don't have the expectation of anyone behind me because people have kind of written me off so that's going to help me succeed and hopefully I do ski fast."

Alcott is hoping a strong season will boost her prospects of securing a place at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, where she aims to conclude her Olympic career.

"I've fought so hard to come back to skiing, I expect to go to Sochi because I know that I can be better than the 11th I've got [in Turin 2006 and Vancouver 2010].

"I owe it to myself and how hard I've worked to be there and to ski better than I've ever skied before," she added.

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