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Page last updated at 14:54 GMT, Thursday, 11 June 2009 15:54 UK

Baxter swaps skis for the saddle

By Anna Thompson

Baxter retired from ski racing in April
Baxter retired from ski racing in April

British ski star Alain Baxter is attempting an Olympic comeback but this time he is aiming for the summer Games in London in 2012.

The Scot has come out of retirement and is switching from skis to the saddle.

Baxter is taking up track cycling and would love another shot at an Olympic medal if he can reach the top level.

He told BBC Sport: "I used to race bikes when I was younger. If I'm good enough to compete then brilliant, I'll go for it."

It is still early days but the 35-year-old is part of the Scottish Institute of Sport's talent transfer programme, headed by former Scotland rugby union international Tony Stanger.

Baxter has been on the track at Meadowbank in Edinburgh and his next step is the National Cycling Centre in Manchester, home of the multi Olympic and world gold medal winning British team.

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"I've been on the track for the first time and I really enjoyed it. It was great fun, hard work, but everything I imagined it to be," he said.

"The next step is Manchester where I'll be putting some times down and see where we go from there.

"I always knew I was pretty good on the bike, I just didn't know how good so this is me finding that out.

"If I'm going to be a full-time athlete again, it has to be at the top level."

Baxter retired from competitive skiing in April because of a chronic back condition after a career spanning two decades.

But he has been keeping up his fitness levels and believes he is in good physical shape to cycle.

"It's completely different movement to skiing. It's power coming from your legs and so far I have felt OK," he added.

Cycling was a huge part of Baxter's ski training and he has also taken part in two Etape Caledonia races in Scotland.

He has links to the British cycling team through strength and conditioning coach Dave Clark, who has worked with Sir Chris Hoy and Craig MacLean, and is also involved with the British ski team.

He can also count on the advice of former Olympic gold medal cyclist Chris Boardman, who Baxter got to know well through Superstars, which he won in 2005.

He does not see his age as a barrier but is under no illusion how difficult it will be to muscle his way into such a successful team, one he describes as "incredible".

Baxter said: "With the British cycling team as it is at the moment, you've got to be in with a chance of doing well or you're not going to get in the team.

"If you're fighting for a place, the faster guy gets the nod, it doesn't matter if you're 18 or 38."

Baxter is best remembered for winning Britain's first-ever alpine skiing Winter Olympic medal at Salt Lake City in 2002 before being controversially stripped of it for failing a post-race drugs test.

He has competed at a Games since then, the 2006 Turin Olympics where he finished 15th in the slalom, but would relish another crack at medal glory.

"It would be an amazing achievement," he added.

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see also
Retiring Baxter proud of record
02 Apr 09 |  Winter Sports
Injuries force Baxter retirement
02 Apr 09 |  Winter Sports
Baxter bares all for Olympic bid
06 Nov 08 |  Winter Sports
Baxter hails moral victory
18 Oct 02 |  Alpine Skiing
British skier stripped of bronze
21 Mar 02 |  Alpine Skiing
Baxter crowned Superstars king
24 Jan 05 |  Superstars


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