BBC Sport wintersports

Related BBC sites

Page last updated at 16:46 GMT, Thursday, 2 April 2009 17:46 UK

Retiring Baxter proud of record

By Anna Thompson

Baxter skied the slalom course at the British Championships in a kilt
Baxter skied the slalom course at the British Championships in a kilt

Alain Baxter's name will be forever remembered for winning Britain's first ever alpine skiing medal at a Winter Olympics - and then controversially being stripped of it for failing a post-race drugs test.

Seven years on from Salt Lake City and Baxter is still bitter his greatest achievement was wiped from the records and would have dearly loved to have competed at the 2010 Games in Vancouver next February.

But injury and age have finally caught up with the Scot and he announced his retirement from the sport at the British Land National Championships at Meribel in France.

The 35-year-old told BBC Sport: "I had Vancouver in my sights but my back has put paid to that.

"If I'm not competing well I'm not really happy and you need to be 100% fit to ski fast and I'm nowhere near that level."

He had been mulling over his future and spoke to the Scottish Institute of Sport who told him to give it six months to see if his back would recover.

But he knew in his heart this would not be the case so he is ending a racing career that has spanned two decades and led to him becoming one of Britain's most successful skiers of all time.

At the height of his career between 2000 and 2002, Baxter was ranked 11th in the world and had four top 10 results in World Cup races to his name.

Hopefully, my achievements in skiing have shown the many younger, talented British skiers coming through that they too can dream of achieving major results at the highest level

Alain Baxter

And then came the 2002 Winter Olympics.

He headed into the Games in top form with Austrian ski legend Franz Klammer predicting Baxter could get on the podium.

And in an extraordinary race in tough conditions when 26 competitors failed to finish the first leg and 14 the second leg, Baxter stayed on his feet to clinch what would have been Britain's first alpine medal.

But the joy was short-lived as Baxter's post-race urine sample contained a trace - a 20 millionth of a gram - of the banned substance methamphetamine which was in an American version of a Vicks inhaler.

The British version Baxter had used for years did not contain the ingredient.

The International Olympic Committee's strict liability rule meant Baxter had to relinquish his medal even though the Court for Arbitration for Sport said in its judgment Baxter was a "sincere and honest man who did not gain a competitive advantage despite the trace of lev-methamphetamine in his system".

Baxter said he now wished he had fought harder to claim his medal back.

"It was a great race and one of my best performances as I had to tackle tough conditions," he said.

"Those involved in ski racing still regard that medal as mine and I am still annoyed about it.

"I could have fought it further but I wanted to get back to competing so left it once I had cleared my name."

The professionalism, commitment and dedication that Alain has shown over the last 20 years brought him a great career

British alpine ski team head coach Mark Tilston

Ultimately the drugs controversy did affect Baxter's career and he slid down the rankings.

At the end of 2007, he told BBC Sport he was contemplating retirement, although he still believed at that stage he could recapture his world class form.

It was not to be and Baxter has decided to call it a day.

He is, though, rightly proud of his achievements and believes he has blazed a trail for future British skiers, including his younger half-brother Noel, Dave Ryding and Andy Noble.

He added: "Snowsport GB has put in place a much better programme and structure than when I started out and we have a strong team.

"Hopefully, my achievements in skiing have shown the many younger, talented British skiers coming through the system that they too can dream of achieving major results at the highest level of this fantastic sport."

Noel is seven years younger than Alain but admits he was driven to succeed in his own career because of his older brother.

He said: "Alain was a huge influence on my career, I probably would not be where I am today without him.

"The way his career turned out, the more I thought about it the harder it became, to know that he deserved so much more than he received."

Mark Tilston, British alpine ski team head coach, paid tribute to Baxter and said others would succeed because of his legacy.

"The professionalism, commitment and dedication that Alain has shown over the last 20 years brought him a great career," said Tilston.

"The trail that Alain has beaten has inspired a new generation of young ski racers who now follow in his tracks."




Snow conditions
Latest weather from resorts around the world

 

Open in new window


SPORT-BY-SPORT GUIDES
 


see also
Injuries force Baxter retirement
02 Apr 09 |  Winter Sports
Baxter bares all for Olympic bid
06 Nov 08 |  Winter Sports
Baxter hints at skiing retirement
18 Nov 07 |  Winter Sports
Baxter's long Olympic wait ends
25 Feb 06 |  Winter Sports
Drugs scandal damaged me - Baxter
24 Jan 06 |  Winter Sports
Alain Baxter
30 Sep 03 |  Profiles
Baxter hails moral victory
18 Oct 02 |  Alpine Skiing
Baxter's turbulent times
02 Sep 02 |  Other Sports


related bbc links:

related internet links:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.