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Last Updated: Saturday, 25 February 2006, 19:45 GMT
Baxter's long Olympic wait ends
By Anna Thompson
BBC Sport at the Winter Olympics

Alain Baxter
Baxter was determined to put his Olympic past behind him
Alain Baxter had waited four long years for this race.

After being controversially stripped of his bronze medal at the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002 for failing a post-race drugs test, the Scot was desperate to put the record straight.

In the final Alpine race of the 2006 Winter Olympics he finished 16th in the slalom - his best result for a year - but for a fleeting moment Baxter was lying in the bronze medal position after his second run.

He told BBC Sport after the race: "It was never the plan to erase what happened in Salt Lake City. It was to try and ski as well as I could.

"Maybe today I wasn't quite giving 100% as I was a bit passive in the middle section."

Slalom is the most technical of all the ski events - with more than 60 gates to negotiate at speed on a difficult course in Sestriere.

In fact, out of the 93 starters in the first run, 29 failed to finish, including pre-race favourite Giorgio Rocca, to the gasps of the Italian crowd, and America's medal-less Bode Miller.

Don't write him off - he's in such good physical shape that, if he wants to come back again, he is capable
Noel Baxter on brother Alain
US team-mate Ted Ligety, a surprise winner of the men's combined at the 2006 Games, was disqualified for straddling.

Baxter, from a start bib of 33, skied into 20th position after the first run, 1.56 seconds behind leader, Austria's Benjamin Raich.

The 32-year-old was cheered on by plenty of British fans waving Union Jacks and Scottish Saltires and there was even a bag-piper.

In the second run, Baxter looked strong on the top section but lost time in the middle and was lying third after his run, with 20 other competitors with faster first legs still to race.

His medal chance disappeared quickly and Baxter, although reasonably happy to have made it to the finish area in one piece after 11 others skied out in the second run and Finland's Kalle Palander was disqualified, wanted a higher finish.

"I was looking for a top 10 and would have been happy with a top 15 because I would have got some World Cup ranking points then. So to finish 16th is disappointing," he said.

Baxter has dismissed any talk of retiring and his younger brother Noel, who finished 20th, believes Alain could compete at the 2010 Games in Vancouver.

"Don't write him off," said Noel. "He is in such good physical shape that, if he wants to come back again, he is capable."


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