Eurosport - Tue, 30 Mar 09:29:00 2010
Chemmy Alcott was forced to settle for silver at the British National Ski Championships for the first time in two years - and admitted she's running on empty.
The 27-year-old swept the board in Meribel last year and won gold in four of the five disciplines in 2008 but could only manage second place on Monday as super-G gold went to Louise Thomas by six-hundredths-of-a-second.
Alcott is nearing the end of an arduous season where she achieved finishes of 11th and 13rd in the super combined and downhill respectively at Vancouver 2010 - the former equalling her best ever Olympic performance.
But it has been far from plain sailing for Alcott this season, who saw national governing body SnowsportGB collapse into administration amid reports she is owed £20,000 by the defunct organisation.
Despite an impressive performance in Vancouver, Alcott cut a forlorn figure as the curtain came down on the Games, admitting she was out of funding and did not know where to turn.
But while she could only manage silver in Meribel, Alcott was quick to praise her conqueror rather than reel off the excuses.
"It made me very proud to see the way Louise skied today," said Alcott. "It was a really testing day. I had a long wait in the start after the race was held up.
"But we had a good competition and it was a good race. It is coming to the end of a long and very difficult season and really I feel completely spent.
"I have never felt this tired. My body is telling me it does not want to go on but my head keeps pushing. I made some mistakes but I am sure Louise did too, but that is ski racing.
"We are good mates and I was watching her coming down today and she was skiing some really nice turns.
"But it is great to be here, to feel the support and interest there is. I was up skiing with and seeing some of the mini (very young) racers yesterday and that was just great."
Meanwhile, Thomas admitted she was as surprised as anyone with her victory.
"To be honest I did not have much expectation from today, far less to win, so I am pleased," said Thomas.
"I have not had the opportunity to do much skiing this season. I had six to seven weeks off with injury, and then with the weather recently there has not been much racing and a lot of hanging around.
"It did not feel like a very great run, the light was flat and it was a very technical Super G.
"But it is always good to win a title and as the first race of the week it gives you lots of confidence to go forwards with."
In the men's events, Dougie Crawford put his Olympic snub behind him to get his British Championships off to a flying start with victory in the men's super-G.
Crawford, by his own admission, has struggled for form since he was overlooked for Ed Drake, Andy Noble and Dave Ryding for the team to Vancouver, but romped home 1.36 seconds ahead of TJ Baldwin.
"To be honest I was quite nervous in the start gate because my results have not been great lately," said Crawford.
"But I skied well and it was not an easy course, so I am pleased to come through and win."