CHEMMY Alcott, one of Britain’s greatest-ever skiers, has tipped two of Scotland’s finest to make a real mark at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
Alex Tilley from Aberdeenshire has recorded a number of impressive results on the World Cup circuit over the last year while Perthshire’s Charlie Guest has bounced back from a horrific training injury in 2014 which saw her break her back to make the Olympic team.
Alcott, who was five-time British champion and a four-time Olympian, is particularly excited about 24-year-old Tilley, who begins her Olympic campaign today in the giant slalom while she also goes in the slalom later in the week. “There’s quite a bit expected from Alex because she’s in such good form,” the Englishwoman, who retired in 2014, said. “She’s such a good skier – she’s so strong and has been so fast in sections this year. She hasn’t got a full run together yet but you can see the potential. I look at her and think that she’s a way better skier than I was – technically, she’s so solid and I’m really excited by her.”
Guest meanwhile has less pressure upon her shoulders but Alcott predicts this lack of expectation could play into the Perthshire skier’s hands. “It’s amazing for Charlie to be at the Olympics at all – to have recovered from that injury and make the team is incredible,” the 35-year-old said. “I think she could be a bit of a dark horse because she’s going into the Games with no expectations and that is when you can really bring out your best performance. She can just go out and enjoy it and focus on being at her best.”
Both Tilley and Guest are making their Olympic debuts this week and with Alcott having amassed such a wealth of Olympic experience, she has some valuable advice for the pair. “Anyone going to the first Olympics, I’d say to them to enjoy being in the Olympic bubble,” Alcott said. “Especially for athletes in individual sports, enjoy being part of the team. This is just the start of their Olympic journey so it’s about taking that in and learning from it. And using it as a tool to inspire you over the next four years to work really hard as you go towards the next Olympics.”
Alcott will be working for the BBC during the Games and she is anticipating the Team GB will live up to predictions and have its most successful Winter Olympics ever, with a number of Scots in particular some of her ones-to-watch. “We are sending our most talented team ever,” she said.“I can’t wait to see Elise Christie – I don’t think there’s anyone at these Olympics who deserves to come back with a medal more than her. There’s Andrew Musgrave in the cross country and there’s the curlers, who are always strong.
“I’m very confident that the team can meet their target of five medals – but the thing with winter sports is that there’s that element of danger and it’s really hard to bring out your personal best.
“When you push yourself too hard, you can over-cook it and things can go wrong.
“That’s a real danger at the Olympics that you get so excited that you’re there and you push it that little bit too hard – especially with freestyle sports, you have to get exactly the right balance.”