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Alpine Skiing Monday, 11 February, 2002, 03:42 GMT
Austrian coach cheers Brits
British skier Alain Baxter has been struggling with a back injury
Alain Baxter has been struggling with a back injury
BBC Sport Online's Anna Thompson talks to Christian Schwaiger, an Austrian charged with helping Britain's alpine ski team.

In an attempt to bring Britain's ski team up to the standards of their more illustrious European counterparts, officials enlisted the help of Austrian coach Christian Schwaiger.

That was five years ago.

Since then, British skiing has undergone a massive makeover to make them contenders on the World Cup and Olympic stages.

And Schwaiger is proud that his coaching team have played their part in the improvement.

So much so that Schwaiger will be rooting for the Brits when they compete at the Winter Olympics rather than his native Austria.

Christian Schwaiger says he is 100% behind Britain
Schwaiger says he is 100% behind Britain

Schwaiger told BBC Sport Online: "I support the British 100%. Although I'm from Austria, I have been working with the British team for five years, so there is no question about where my loyalties lie."

Britain has never won an alpine ski medal in the history of the Games.

At Salt Lake City, Britain's best hopes rest with slalom specialist Alain Baxter - but he has been struggling with injury and equipment problems.

Baxter, from Aviemore, hurt his back in Schladming, Austria, but has still been able to compete.

He has yet to head to the Olympics. The 27-year-old, who finished last season 11th in the world, has been trying out new skis on the Europa Cup circuit.

In the weekend's event in Italy, Baxter finished ninth in a high-quality field.

His half-brother Noel failed to finish the first run and Gareth Trayner, another slalom skier, did not qualify for the second run.

The trio will fly to Salt Lake City on 12 February to meet up with the rest of the Olympic squad.

Schwaiger said: "I won't know what shape Alain's in until I see him but he has had a bad back problem.

"The good side is the fact his equipment is better. Alain is getting better and better and his confidence is coming back."

Britain did not have a representative in the blue riband event - the men's downhill - after Finlay Mickel was injured just before heading to the Games.

Chemmy Alcott will race in the women's downhill on Monday (1700 GMT).

The 19-year-old is set to race in all five events, the downhill, slalom, giant slalom, super-G and combined.

And Ross Green will go in the men's combined and giant slalom.

He trained with the world's best downhillers as part of his combined practice.

Schwaiger said: "The last race Chemmy did, she crashed and had to have a couple of stitches.

"She has been taking training easy.

"Ross has the experience of racing against the top downhillers on what is a very difficult course."

Britain's final representative is Emma Carrick-Anderson, who favours slalom and giant slalom, and is competing in her fourth Winter Olympics.

Links to more Alpine Skiing stories are at the foot of the page.

Links to more Alpine Skiing stories

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