It was a day that threatened to be disrupted by the inclement weather but not even the weather Gods could ruin the Final Hurrah for Chemmy Alcott. … Victory in her final race was a fitting tribute and ending to her ski racing career as an active participant. Chemmy has been the standard bearer in Women’s ski racing for Britain for the last ten years and while the accolades are numerous, Chemmy preferred to look out from the podium after her final race and say the legacy was standing out in front of her. Victory in the Super Combined was Chemmy’s with Cara Brown taking second and Alice MacAulay taking third. Darcie Mead took the Junior Super G title ahead of Brown but crashed out on the slalom section of the event.
With the warm weather having come in over night, the herculean efforts of the ESF to salt the Super G course and a subsequent delay saw many a furrowed brow in the finish area. The delay was lengthy, an hour and a half, to allow the salt to set. Even with the delay the race was not a certainty to happen and after inspection a further meeting with the coaches saw the go ahead. It was windy at the top, it was not perfect but we had a race. This was a Championship course and it gave the racers much to think about.
Alcott lead the way after the Super G with Mead just over a second Â behind her and Brown in thirdÂ with Macaulay and Clissold in the top five. Come the slalom and with only eight of the sixteen on the start list still in the race, the final run of Alcott’s illustrious career would be the last run of the race. Rachelle Rogers put in a strong slalom run to bring herself back into contention and while Clissold was disqualified, Macaulay also benefitted from the clean conditions on the course. Macaulay has been one of the rising talents to come to the fore this season and has benefitted from the support and coaching from the Ambition coaching staff. Macaulay may be quiet but as soon as she is on the race course the fire and determination come to the fore.
Brown, who admitted that she had taken the Super G a little cautious after two spectacular crashes in the downhills, was very surprised with her Slalom: “I am not a slalom skier so I was sure that I was going to end up off the podium so at the start I thought, lets have fun with it and go for it.” The end result for her was to take the lead in the finish with two racers to go.
Darcie Mead had not expected a great time after the Super G but realised that Super G is the sort of event that every one makes mistakes so was pleased to see her time in the finish. “I did not think I would be that close to Chemmy,” she admitted. Mead straddled high up on the slalom section, was unsure whether she had so carried on only to straddle again half way down and came out. Having had a lot of injury problems this season, she is only now getting back into it, she explained. Next season has already started for the Surbiton High School student who goes back to school after Easter to sit her A Levels.
With Mead out, it was the last Hurrah for Alcott. dressed in a high class dirndle, Alcott enjoyed her last competitive run. Alcott has always had a lot of talent on the slalom skis and a few years ago, her then coach explained that he felt Alcott could get her best world cup result in Slalom. Many would not have been surprised by this bold statement but the amount of hours running slalom gates required to get to the top in slalom would have meant that she would have compromised her speed events, something she admitted she was not willing to do. Whooping and smiling and loving every moment of her final run, Alcott crossed the line to be greeted by a guard of honour.
While the tears flowed after prize giving and saying her final thanks, Chemmy deserved her moment in the spotlight. Her Mum, Eve, will have looked down with pride at her daughter!
An emotional Chemmy said after her final race: â€œIt hasnâ€™t quite sunk in yet that this is my last ever ski race. When I was in the start date I thought â€˜this is the last time I will be in this positionâ€™ and I had to fight back some tears. But then as I started skiing I really enjoyed it and seeing all the people I care about in the finish area was really special.
“This has been my best ever British Championships. I took the pressure off myself and there is so much support and itâ€™s also the first time I feel like I can give back to the younger girls. This event would be nothing without the support of Delancey and specifically Sir John Ritblat who has been supporting British skiing for 36 years. He has put everything into this event and his passion for our sport is unrivalled. We owe so much to him.
â€œToday has been really emotional. I have put my heart and soul into this sport and to end it having fun like I did when I started is just great! I hope my legacy is to show people that you can pick yourself up when you are down. Iâ€™ve always taken risks and pushed the boundaries. I want younger racers to do the same but not forget why we do this sport and that is because we love it.
â€œI want to thank my fiancÃ©e Dougie Crawford who has been there through all the hard times. He has always been behind me and he completely understands what I am going through. I also want to thank my sponsors. I have been doing this independently for so long I wouldnâ€™t have got to where I did without them.â€
The racing goes on with the technical events tomorrow.
Pictures from the racing are available on www.racer-ready.ifp3.com
Picture: Chemmy Alcott on her final run on her way to her victory in the Super Combined. Credit RACER READY