The Routine: Emma Carrick-Anderson, Britain's No 1 female skier

Since I cut my ear off, I've been lucky with injuries
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The Independent Online

Emma Carrick-Anderson, 26, has embarked on her 10th season with the British Alpine Ski Team and is due to compete in her fourth Winter Olympics, to be held this year in Salt Lake City, Utah, from 8 to 24 February. Born in Stirling, she started skiing when she was two, inspired by her brother and by the mountains of her native Scotland. By six she was racing, and at 15 she was combining race-training with academic work at school in Austria. Ranked 65th in the world in the slalom discipline, she is Britain's No 1 female skier.

What strengths do you need for skiing?

For the technical disciplines, slalom and giant slalom, you need to be strong, you need a good aerobic base – but you must be agile. Skiing is an explosive sport.

How seriously do you take training?

Very. I work out for four hours most days, doing squats, plunges and cleans, which is a power exercise using free weights. Strength and muscle is built up in this way, but that makes you slow, because your legs get heavy and tight. So, two months before the season starts, we do a lot of "explosive" training, using lighter weights to get the fast-twitch muscles in the legs going.

Is all your out-of-season training done in the gym?

No. The British team do loads of outdoor exercises, such as long bike rides. The muscles used in biking, the quads, are the same as those used in skiing. This summer we started using big rubber balls that work the really small muscles around your spine and the ones that hold your pelvis in place. Athletes are realising just how important these are. We're also working on balance. By the end of the summer we were standing on the balls and juggling, which is amazing considering that when we first started we couldn't even sit on the things without falling off.

What training work do you hate most?

Intervals. It's an absolute killer. It's the kind of training that often makes you physically sick.You can do the exercise on a bike, or running, or rowing. You do two minutes really fast, then 45 seconds slow, and you have to push it really hard, almost at your maximum. It's foul, but it's the best way to get fit.

How are the Brits viewed on the circuit?

The way people look at us has totally changed. We've got four people skiing in the top 30 in the world now, so we're regarded as an up-and-coming nation.

Are you on a diet?

I'm on a varied diet which is low on fat. Any fat you're carrying is extra weight you don't need – your whole body needs to be muscle. So I eat a lot of carbohydrates and protein. It's also really important to replace your energy after training. If you wait too long your body starts eating up the muscle. So I will eat a banana sandwich or jelly sweeties. They're good because there's no fat in them, just sugar.

Have you had any major injuries?

I cut my ear off once. I was 11 and didn't have my helmet on at the time. I had my racing skis on my shoulder, and my training skis on my feet, I hit a bump and my ski went through my ear. They just sewed it on again. I've been pretty lucky since then; just sore knees and back.

Do you prepare mentally before a race?

I'm working with a sports psychologist. The mental side of racing is massive: you need to believe in yourself so much.Last season I had a hard time because of the new carving skis. I had to change my technique completely.