What I know about women: Alain Baxter

MY WIFE, Sheila, and Brooke, my daughter, are the most important women in my life. Sheila and I have been married for about two-and-a-half years and Brooke is just eight months old. She's a right wee character, a bit like her old dear. I've got a wee boy as well, Kerr. He was two in November.

It is different having a daughter. I guess because we had a boy first we kind of got used to that. And then obviously we were blessed with a little girl. She was a bit grumpy at first to be honest, but she's really chilled out now.

I try to parent Kerr and Brooke in exactly the same way. Like any father I think you're probably a bit more protective of a daughter though. Or maybe it's not more protective, but I think I'll be more worried about her as she gets older. I think that's normal though, knowing what boys are like.

I had quite a lot of girl friends when I was at school. Growing up in Aviemore, it's a village really, so everyone knew everyone.

There was always a sense of not quite understanding girls – I still don't really understand them – but I was definitely interested in them from quite a young age.

Women and men are definitely different. If a guy sits at a dinner table with a group of say, five or ten women, that's awkward. You don't know which conversation to join in with because there's just blethering all over the place. That sort of situation can be a little strange. When I'm with guys the conversation definitely feels more comfortable.

Sheila's very driven at work in the family waste-management business, and I'm very driven in my sport so in that way we're similar. She works hard at her job and I work hard at my sport, but it maybe doesn't seem like I'm working hard because I'm doing sport. I'm away in the gym or out biking or whatever and she's in the office.

In my sport there are only a couple of races a year where women compete. There's always a bit of controversy about the difference between men and women, just as there is in tennis, but I enjoy watching women's skiing. It is different so you couldn't compete against each other, but it's equally skilful.

My mum was a massive figure in my life. We're pretty close actually. It was my mum who taught me how to tune my skis. She's always been there for me. I've been skiing for a long time and some parents really do get involved with their kids skiing, too much – getting involved with the politics and the background stuff. It's a pain in the arse for coaches and for the kid. My mum stayed out of all that stuff. She got involved when she needed to and she was always supportive. She's been great, actually. She was a bit nervous about the financial side of things because it takes a long time until you're financially independent, but she was never worried about any other aspect of the sport. She'd been involved and had done the same. She still makes her living through skiing – she's got a ski school out in France.

She definitely let me know when I was doing something wrong but apart from that she kind of let me make my own mistakes, which I think was good. She gave me advice if I wanted it and if I needed it, but she also let me get on with stuff. She wasn't interfering.

If I had the chance to be a woman for a day I really don't know if I'd want to. That film, What Women Want, that's hilarious. I think being a woman looks like quite hard work. I shave my legs for massage and cycling so I'm there already, but I think it'd definitely be interesting to do a short switch. It might help me to figure some stuff out.

• A small number of Alain Baxter's 2009 calendar, featuring 12 mainly nude shots by top photographer Trevor Yerbury, is still available from his website, price 5. Proceeds from sales go towards Alain's 2012 Olympic bid. See www.alainbaxter.co.uk