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Tuesday, 19 February, 2002, 00:54 GMT

Baxter awaits slalom mission

By BBC Sport Online's Anna Thompson in Salt Lake City

Britain's top skier, Alain Baxter, has decided not to compete in the giant slalom at the Winter Olympics after injuring himself in a training run.

But he will definitely race in his favoured event, the slalom, at Deer Valley on Saturday.

Baxter, who finished 11th in the world in slalom last season, injured his right knee in a spectacular crash on Saturday.

The 28-year-old was catapulted through the air during a giant slalom practice run.

He told BBC Sport Online on Monday: "I have decided not to go in the giant slalom.

"Although my knee is a lot better, I don't want to jeopardise my chances in the slalom by racing the GS and suffering an injury."

Team manager Christian Schwaiger said after Saturday's accident: "It was scary. Alain went about four feet in the air.

"He will be covered in bruises. It was an accident but that is what happens in ski racing."

Baxter, nicknamed the Highlander because he hails from Aviemore in Scotland, has been sporting a very patriotic hairstyle.

He had his hair dyed blue with the St Andrew white cross across the middle.

But he will have to change it before he competes later this week.

Team GB bosses have said all athletes must support Britain as a whole, rather than differentiate between the different countries in the British Isles.

He could have been given an International Olympic Committee warning if the hairstyle was deemed a political stance.

Baxter said: "I've already had the cross dyed so it doesn't resemble a Scottish flag anymore.

"It wasn't a political statement. I'm just proud to be Scottish."

His cousin, snowboarder Lesley McKenna, was involved in a similar episode when she had to remove the Scottish flag from her attire before competing in the Olympic half-pipe.


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