She is one of Britain’s best-loved skiers. So it’s only fitting that Chemmy Alcott introduced her newborn son, Cooper, in an exclusive HELLO! interview and photoshoot on top of a mountain. The Olympic ski racer and former Dancing on Ice contestant revealed to HELLO! that Cooper was born at such speed that it led to a frantic rush to undergo the same procedure they adopted with their first child: having the cord blood containing potentially life-saving stem cells frozen and stored. "Those stem cells are magic," Chemmy told HELLO!
Chemmy Alcott introduces baby Cooper
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Only three weeks after his birth, the family were staying in a spectacular SkiStar chalet in the traditional mountain village of Are in Sweden, where Chemmy was already back skiing for pleasure and on screen presenting for BBC's Ski Sunday from the Alpine World Ski Championships.
"He is a super-chilled baby. Everything that is going on around him, all the noise, he just chills out through it," said the 36-year-old former Dancing on Ice star, cradling Cooper Alexander Crawford, who took everyone by surprise when he was born, weighing in at 7lb 9oz, at Surrey's Kingston Hospital only 45 minutes after her waters broke. Recalling his arrival she said: "I was there holding him in my arms and still in my mind I was thinking I was about to have an epidural – it all happened so fast. "As an athlete I am always about goal setting. I thought I still had a long time to go but actually I was going through the motions rapidly and my body was ready to give birth." It also led to a frantic rush to undergo the same procedure they adopted with their first child: having the cord blood containing potentially life-saving stem cells frozen and stored. "As soon as we heard about it, it was a no-brainer to have that back-up for your child in case of illness or injury going forward," explained 31-year- old Dougie. "It is an area of medicine that is growing so quickly. You hope you will never need it or use it but it is there. Those stem cells are magic," enthused Chemmy. "Technology has progressed even more since having Locki, so this time with Cooper we also had him tested for intolerances and allergies from the cord blood, so I already know he's not allergic to anything – although we found out he is highly likely to be sensitive to cruciferous vegetables." Chemmy, who has started doing podcasts on ski racing, motherhood and family life, recommends the test to other new parents. "When you think of all the worry over things like dairy intolerance and nut allergies, for any new mum to know that straight away about their child is phenomenal."
The couple have recieved parenting advice from Mike and Zara Tindall
With "adrenaline junkies" for parents, these two boys are likely to live life to the max. Fast forward a few years and Dougie and Chemmy could even have a ski champ – or two – on their hands. "I would be the worst ski-racing mum ever. It would scare the hell out of me," confesses Chemmy, who suffered horrific injuries in a high-speed crash on the slopes in 2010. "The important thing for me is that they love sport and they love being outdoors, but they don't need to be a ski racer." Dougie, who met Chemmy when they both competed for Team GB, added: "Ski racing is a tough sport and I think we would both have reservations about watching them as a downhill ski racer at 80 miles per hour, but we know we got so much from it, so much joy. We couldn’t deny them of it if they really wanted to do it." Two-year-old Locki first skied at 14 months, "with Dougie and me holding his hands", says Chemmy. "But as much as we have achieved in sport, we have no clue how to coach a baby. I'm there saying to him: 'Locki, switch on your core,’'as he is all jelly. He looks at me as if to say: 'Mummy, what are you saying?' "You want to challenge and give them confidence but you don’t want to overstep the fine line and make them scared because they’ll remember that fear for a while." Both parents took to the slopes at a young age. Dougie started at two years old and Chemmy at 18 months, before she went on to compete seriously at the age of eight, embarking on a career that saw her ranked eighth in the world, competing in the Olympics in Salt Lake City, Turin, Vancouver and Sochi.
Chemmy was ranked eigth in the world
Locki may be a skiing novice, but it's his mum and dad who are the ones learning the ropes: being parents to two children. "It's a game changer – with two you have both got to be on call," says Chemmy, who tells how they had good advice from their friends Zara and Mike Tindall, who had their second child last year. "Zara has texted me and Mike was telling us that we needed to be really prepared for the differences from going from one to two children, but he said how phenomenal it is." Chemmy also had messages from her good friends, singers Mollie King and Heidi Range: "They can't wait to meet him."
"It's a balancing act," agreed Dougie. "To make sure Locki feels loved and looked after as he has been the centre of our world for the past two years and suddenly there is this new baby. Although Locki doesn’t know it right now, we have created a circle of family life and Cooper will be his little play buddy in a couple of years," said Chemmy. "Locki is a fabulous, vivacious little boy but we feel he needs a sibling. He is so social – he befriends anyone who walks in the house straight away. At the moment the difference between the brothers seems huge, as Cooper is a tiny baby and Lockiis running around like crazy. But in a couple of years they will be going through all the experiences of life together," said Dougie. As for Cooper's name - "We just loved it – Cooper Crawford had a ring to it," said Chemmy. "And his middle name Alexander is a name that goes through Dougie's family and mine. My late mother called her first child – my big brother – Alexander, and she loved the name, so in a way it’s a tribute to her."
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After retiring from professional skiing, the couple, who married in 2014, run their own business, CDC Performance, to help young people develop life skills through sport. Mentoring is their passion and Chemmy gives many inspirational talks. "I was the best in Britain – I never won the Olympics, but there is strength in talking about keeping going and doing everything you can to be a better version of you."
As a doting mum to her firstborn, Chemmy had worried that she could not love another child with such intensity. "It really was a worry of mine. I adore Locki – I love his stubborn, fun temperament. Dougie and I are so in love with him and I think: 'How can love this new baby as much?' But it is amazing that your heart is eternal – there is no ceiling to its capability of love. As soon as that little baby came into my arms, I was brimming over with love. We both feel our family is complete with Cooper." Was it coincidence that the two boys were born within days of one another two years apart? "Basically, Dougie and I work really hard during the winter months and have loads on and we’re often really stressed. Then, by Easter time, we finish our work, come home and relax – so that’s what happens," she laughed.
The couple married in 2014
Will there be more snow babies? "You can never say never but with two children it feels manageable, with three you are outnumbered," Chemmy smiled. "I do love being pregnant, though – I feel energised. The most proud and confident I have ever felt of my body is not when I had a six pack as a ski racer, but when I was six months pregnant and I could feel that baby alive and kicking inside me."
Does she feel changed by parenthood? "I don't think I have changed – I have adapted. Instead of having one role in my life I now have a portfolio of things that I love to do, passions that I am driven by, and the most important of those is being a good mother and a fun mother. That is something that I will always try to bring to our family."
For ski trips including lodging, passes and lessons in Sweden, Norway and Austria, visit www.skistar.com Check out Chemmy's podcasts on being a mum @chemmyski for details.