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Monday, 14 January, 2002, 11:52 GMT

The other Maier

BBC Sport's Anna Thompson profiles Austrian snowboarder Alexander Maier.

Ask anyone about the name Maier in association with the winter sports and the Olympics and they would instantly think of Hermann.

But since his horrific motorcycle crash in August, the ski legend has been trying to rebuild his shattered leg and career.

His absence from the Salt Lake City Games means that it will be left to his younger brother Alexander to fly the family flag.

Alexander Maier loves snow as much as Hermann, but decided to forge his career in snowboarding.

After getting fed up with ski racing, Maier had become a ski and snowboard instructor in his native Austria.

In 1999, he decided to enter the Austrian snowboarding championships.

Maier started the giant slalom with bib number 140, an awful start position.

Remarkably, he managed to win the first run.

Sadly he crashed out in the second run, but the small victory was enough to prompt him into full-time racing.

Brushes with death

He sold his car and his motorcycle and went to the Obertauern Olympic training centre to improve his fitness.

But it has not been all plain-sailing.

Alexander Maier had two brushes with death in 2000.

He had been training with his team in Kaprun, Austria, just one day before the deadly ski-tunnel fire erupted on 11 November - killing 155 people.

Then, later the same month, Maier was in a car accident in Germany while returning home from a race in Tignes, France.

Thankfully he walked away without serious injury.

Maier loves to race in the snowboard parallel giant slalom, where two racers compete against each other.

Last season he finished sixth in the world in this discipline.

This season, Maier has been struggling with his form.

However, in Switzerland, in January, he recorded his first win of the season in a World Cup race.

It seems Maier is just coming into form at the right time.


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