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Last Updated: Sunday, 18 November 2007, 13:05 GMT
Baxter hints at skiing retirement
By Anna Thompson

Alain Baxter
Baxter has not had a top 30 World Cup finish since January 2005
Scottish skier Alain Baxter has hinted he could retire at the end of the season if his poor results continue.

Last season was the worst for a decade for the 33-year-old and he has now dropped out of the world's top 100 slalom skiers.

Baxter told BBC Sport: "I will see how this season goes. I'm not going to say yes or no at this stage.

"I've not set any time limits, but I wouldn't be doing it if I didn't think I could still be one of the best."

Baxter is best remembered for becoming the first Briton to "win" an alpine ski medal by finishing third in the 2002 Winter Olympics slalom.

But he failed a post-race drugs test, when a trace of banned substance methamphetamine was found in his system, and he was stripped of his medal under the strict liability rule.

At that time, Baxter was ranked 11th in the world and had recorded four top 10 results.

Since then he has struggled with his form and has not registered a top 30 result in a World Cup race since his 27th place at the Chamonix slalom in January 2005, although he did finish 16th at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin.

606: DEBATE
Piesfortea

Because he is sliding down the world rankings, his start bib numbers are getting higher, which in turn makes it harder to clinch a top-30 place in the first leg of races to qualify for the second leg.

Baxter said: "If you get in the top 30 it's a whole different ball game. You will be one of the first to race in the second leg and it's possible to get a top-10 result."

At the season-opening slalom in Reiteralm in Austria, Baxter started 73rd out of 77 racers, which was his worst started position for seven seasons, and he failed to finish the first leg.

"For my number and for the conditions, it was not a bad effort. I gave myself a pretty good chance but I came out right near the bottom, where quite a few other racers had made the same mistake," he said.

Baxter said he could no longer play the percentage game because by the time he comes to race, the course is badly rutted. Instead he has to go flat out and hope he safely negotiates 60-plus gates and in a quick enough time to qualify.

"I am at a point in my career now where I have to risk it," said Baxter.

"I have had years where my start number has been good and you get results through that. Now I'm in that situation where I have to risk it and make results. Just go for it basically.

"There's no point in going half-speed or 80% just so you'll finish because you'll come 60th or 70th. You've got to put the hammer down and try and get within the top 30."

Baxter will race in two second-tier Europa Cup slaloms in Are, Sweden, before heading to the next World Cup event at Bad Kleinkirchham, in Austria, on 9 December.

He added: "I feel I'm skiing well and I'm pretty positive thinking, so fingers crossed."



SEE ALSO
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25 Oct 07 |  Winter Sports


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