Battersea’s British alpine hopeful Cara Brown following in Chemmy Alcott’s tracks to Winter Olympics

Cara Brown is already gathering speed on the downhill run to the Winter Olympics.

Next week will be exactly 500 days until the opening ceremony in PyeongChang and Brown, who lives in Battersea, is determined not to waste a single one.

The 22-year old has established herself as Britain’s top woman alpine skier following the retirement of four-time Olympian Chemmy Alcott, who now serves as her occasional coach and mentor.

Introduced to the sport as a ten-year old, she is already a three-time national champion and made her World Cup debut in Val d’Isere two years ago.

Last year she enjoyed a successful season on the South American Cup circuit and is looking to move through the ranks ahead of a planned World Championship debut in St Moritz next February.

But the prospect of PyeongChang looms large on the horizon.

“Obviously you think about the Olympics but the World Championships will show me where I stand, if I need to catch up or if I’m better than expected,” said Brown, who has spent the summer sidelined with an anterior cruciate ligament injury, the skier’s curse.

“All the top people are there and it will be a great indication of what I need to do to improve and you learn so much just being in that environment.

“This year my focus is also on working my way through Europa Cups and then hopefully I’ll do some World Cups for experience.”

Alcott often found travelling as Britain’s sole World Cup skier a tough and lonely existence, with Brown getting an insight into that life when she flew the standard at last year’s World Junior Championships in Norway.

“Chemmy is a real inspiration, her enthusiasm for skiing is remarkable and she’s always there for advice or to help,” she added.

“I travelled to some events last season with her and her husband Dougie Crawford and having them around, with all their knowledge, made a really big difference.

“Her experience and contacts are invaluable and she’s really passionate about having British alpine skiers succeed.”

Freestyle skiers and snowboarders – now firmly established among the world’s best – are the only British snow sport athletes currently eligible for lottery funding.

Brown will spend £45,000 chasing her Olympic dream this year, with the overwhelming contribution to those costs made by her family.

However, she hopes to benefit from a new initiative, backed by leading UK travel operators.

The British Snowsports Fund will see holidaymakers encouraged to make a small donation when they book their annual getaway to the slopes.

Over one million Brits enjoy a skiing holiday every year and if each donated a pound, the effect could revolutionise the aspirations of Brown and others.

“Funding is vital, the biggest skiing nation in the world is Austria and the funding they put it to the sport is reflected by how many athletes they get on the podium,” added Brown.

“We’re not miles behind these guys, we’re less than seconds and any kind of support makes a huge difference in a sport which is all about marginal gains.

“The difference between first place and 30th place can be two seconds, make a second and suddenly you are in the top ten and everything then changes.

“I think it’s vitally important to show we have a good alpine skiing pedigree. I think the level in this country is higher than it’s ever been.

“If Britain can prove ourselves on the alpine skiing stage then we will be a serious snow sports nation.”

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