Discover the best places on Earth to ski

Britain's number one Alpine racer, Chemmy Alcott, believes everyone should have a go on the slopes. She tells Mark Rowe her top resorts

I started skiing when I was 18 months old and took part in my first race when I was three. I come from a sporty family – my dad played rugby and my mum was a swimmer – and though neither were great skiers, one of my brothers, who is eight years older than me, was said to have talent, so skiing was what we did.

We spent family holidays at Flaine in the Haute-Savoie region of the French Alps. That's where my roots are, where I learnt to ski. The place is atypically French – not snooty towards you if you don't speak the language.

I love the beauty of the place: the views of Mont Blanc – on the side that you don't ski on – are breathtaking. And the skiing is phenomenal. You don't have to waste time hiking uphill: you just step out of your apartment and ski from your doorstep. The resort also has a great ski school, so I would recommend it for families. But it does have some very taxing runs, too. My favourite is the Demon Noir, one of the hardest runs there; it's very steep, a great powder run. When there isn't much snow, they lay on these massive moguls. I'm not much good at them but they are great fun.

In contrast to Flaine, St Anton in Austria is tough. But I like it for all sorts of reasons. The women go there to look pretty and sip cappuccinos and a lot of guys go on the slopes to test their machismo. There's a bar halfway down the slope called the Krazy Kangaroo where you can sit at midnight and watch people whizzing past who have had far too much gluhwein.

I like skiing through the trees at St Anton. It can be quite dangerous, so you need to be accompanied by someone who knows what they are doing. It's about knowing when to be sensible. I broke my neck skiing when I was 11 but I don't have that in my mind when I ski. As a racer, I go down the slopes at 90mph but not on public slopes. Yet, I see people trying to go at speed without regard for others or for the possibility there might be a kid below them.

Outside Europe I'd recommend Whistler in Canada. I love the way they do skiing over there. Everyone is just so enthusiastic about the sport – it's really catching. There's a lot of terrain at Whistler, with big jumps that fall away. The ski slopes have a very open face, the higher up the mountain you go, the more difficult it gets. You can also go heli-skiing in the back country.

Whistler is about tree runs. That's a bonus because when the weather is bad they give the landscape contrast so you can keep skiing. The snow is also different. Runs in Europe get really icy at the end of the day, whereas at Whistler and elsewhere in Canada and the US it gets crunchy. We call it "hero snow" because it makes skiing easy and can make skiers look quite good.

The other place to ski in Canada is Banff, where the 2010 Winter Olympics will take place. I competed in a race by Lake Louise and the place is breathtaking – the mountains are in your face. That's a big part of skiing, it's so inspiring. The landscapes of skiing never fail to get to me.

I'm a mountains and water kind of girl. For that reason I love Queenstown, New Zealand. I've spent eight seasons there. Skiing is one of the things you go to New Zealand for, not the thing. They don't have the lengths of slope that you get in the US or Europe, but I rate the place highly for pure enjoyment. They prepare the slopes very well and it is great for racing because they have really good snow – huge crystals – and good glaciers. For most of my life, the glaciers in Europe have been retreating, so you end up skiing on yellow snow.

One of my favourite ski resorts is Verbier in Switzerland. The whole experience is simply a lot of fun, much more so than St Moritz, which can be a bit stuffy and attract people who want to be seen skiing rather than to ski. If you have a Prada ski outfit and aren't that bothered about becoming a better skier then go to St Moritz. Verbier is the opposite end of the spectrum. You go because you are serious about skiing and it attracts very good skiers. Historically, it's a place where Swiss people without much money would go, which may explain the different attitude. The snow and mountains are not so different from St Moritz, except that there is a big steep bowl that has been left to nature. Verbier also has a good spectrum of runs.

Skiing is inclusive. It's all about fun, whether you are racing or on holiday. I'd encourage people to have a go. It doesn't matter if you are clumsy or don't think you have balance – I'm the original bull in a china shop. You can learn or get better whatever your age – I taught a 78-year-old man on the artificial slopes at Sandown who never thought he would be able to do it.

It's a beautiful sport. I'm a very sociable person and the only two times that I don't talk are when I'm scuba diving and skiing because I love just gliding down the slopes with the snow glistening – it's a chance to be at one with nature.

Further browsing You can follow Chemmy Alcott's fortunes in this season's Alpine Ski World Cup at

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths surrounding the enigmatic singer
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
Life and Style
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Christian Benteke of Aston Villa celebrates scoring the winner for Aston Villa
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Bill O'Reilly attends The Hollywood Reporter 35 Most Powerful People In Media Celebration at The Four Seasons Restaurant on April 16, 2014 in New York City
media It is the second time he and the channel have clarified statements
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Restaurant Manager / Sommelier

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Receptionists - Seasonal Placement

    £12500 - £13520 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced Hotel Receptionists...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Receptionists - Poole

    £12500 - £13520 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Recruitment Genius: Lifeguards / Leisure Club Attendants - Seasonal Placement

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Qualified Lifeguards are required to join a fa...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn