Since the founding of Wikipedia, LSE’s notable alumni list has been dominated by eighty year old investment bankers and foreign heads of state, with not a single sportsperson in sight. Put simply, we are not a particularly sporty University. It is also true that there is nothing unusual about this. How, after all, could one find time to juggle an already intense, pressurised environment in their sporting life with EC102? (I’ve no idea what that is but apparently it’s difficult). The few capable of this multi-tasking are truly incredible and unique athletes. These LSE students are the crème de la crème of both sport and academia, a bridge seldom crossed.
The Beaver in the noughties tended to focus on the juvenile delinquency of the lads in footy; throughout the teenies it has been a healthy mix of Premier League coverage and futile attempts made by me at being funny. In a rare break from this, I dipped my toe into the pond of the elite and spoke (via e-mail) to one of the LSE’s finest elite athletes. Alright, I’ll get out of the way now.
I’m Chloé, 18 years old (19 this week!), and I’m a ski racer for the French National Team (since 2015). I live in Chamonix in the French Alps. I compete internationally in world cups and world championships, in a quite niche discipline called telemark skiing. It’s a mix of nordic and alpine skiing, with a race format similar to that of alpine skiing but with different elements in the course. There are four different disciplines within telemark skiing, with time and technique being the two components of how good you perform in a race. I am the current Junior World Champion in the classic event, and I also won 2 gold medals in 2017.
What is the Sports Performance programme?
The sports performance program is a programme developed by LSE that enables high level athletes to continue to compete and be successful in their chosen sports. It helps athletes financially, academically, and supports them by giving them access to a range of amenities including the gym and workshops on sports psychology, nutrition etc.. I am very grateful for the support and I couldn’t ski without it!
Is there a noticeable difference in the culture of an elite sports set-up?
Elite sport is very demanding, and it is naturally a very competitive and mentally challenging environment. I certainly noticed the change when I got selected for the French Team in 2015. Elite sports shape you mentally and physically into a person that thrives in intense, highly challenging situations.
Have you managed to balance Sports and academic work? If so, how so?
I have always balanced both all through high school. The year I graduated I missed a total of 3 months of school. But still succeeded in my exams ! I think skiing, rather than hindering my academic performance, has always helped it, simply because I become used to thinking and delivering under stressful circumstances, and also crucially enables me to have a balanced lifestyle. I couldn’t have done one without the other, which is why I decided to keep going while at university! Let’s see how long I last…
Did you feel as though you were sacrificing anything (sports wise) when you came to university?
Of course. Most, if not all the members of my ski team are studying (or not) very close to where they live and train in France which makes it so much easier. I’m in London, doing full time studies, I definitely miss out (on training camps, contact with my coaches and team and sponsors etc). But the Sports Programme helps me remain focused even though I am training from afar. I will just have to travel back and forth between France and London when I have races this winter.
What was the hardest challenge you had to face during your sporting career?
When I was 14 I broke my tibia and had serious complications that affected both legs. It was very hard to get back on track as I couldn’t train for nearly a year. Generally injuries are the hardest in ski racing because they are usually quite significant and it takes time before you reach your level pre-accident. Currently recovering from a knee operation.
Did you always have support in pursuing your sport?
Yes, from my team, my parents and partners. LSE’s support is crucial though, because because I need a link between my uni and my sport!
Has the LSE satisfied your sporting needs?
It has exceeded my expectations. I knew coming here was a risk, because it isn’t a sporting uni like Loughborough for example. I was surprised by how understood we were as athletes, and the support we have received is fantastic.
Winning double gold at the Junior Worlds in Norway in 2017. I was the youngest athlete ever to do so (at 17 years old) and it was just an overall amazing moment!
I am not sure yet. PPE is 4 years, so I have time to decide. Its likely that my future chosen career will not be compatible with high level skiing. So for the time being, I am just enjoying the fact that I can still do both!