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Alain Baxter to retire from competitive skiing

Scotland's most successful skier sets his sights on career in track cycling.

Scotland's most successful skier, Alain Baxter, has announced his retirement from competitive skiing and is setting his sights on a track cycling career. 

The 35-year old, best known for being stripped of his Bronze medal after taking a banned nasal spray at the Winter Olympics in 2002, is racing in the British championships in for the final time this afternoon.

He is looking to follow in the wheels of gold medal winner Chris Hoy and bid for track glory in sprint cycling events.

Baxter has been a full-time member of the Snowsport GB alpine team since the age of 18. Since joining the team, he has achieved 11 top 15 World Cup finishes and four top 10 results.

The super-fit athlete also won the BBC *Superstars *series in 2004 and the team event in 2008, making him the only athlete to win both.

In the 2000-2001 season the Edinburgh-born racer achieved the highest ranking ever yet achieved by a British alpine skier when he finished 11th overall in the FIS World Cup rankings.

In the same season, he missed getting Britain's first World Cup win by less than five tenths of a second, finishing 4th in Are, Sweden.

Referring to Baxter's decision to retire, Mark Simmers, chief executive of Snowsport GB, said: "All athletes have to face retirement at some stage. For almost two decades, Alain Baxter, Britain's greatest ski racer has been pushing his mind and body to the limit.

"Though in recent seasons Alain's performances have been affected by injury, he remains a hugely respected figure in international ski racing. His fourth place in a World Cup in Sweden, an overall world ranking of 11th and claiming Britain's first Olympic alpine ski medal, speak volumes of Alain's mercurial skiing talent.

"'The Highlander' will be missed."

Mark Tilston, British Alpine Ski Team head coach added: "Alain Baxter will always be one of the greats of British ski racing. He has shown that skiers from these shores can compete and beat traditional alpine nations.

"The professionalism, commitment and dedication that Alain has shown over the last 20 years brought him a great career and he will now leave ski racing with not only incredible memories, skills and experiences, he will be able to attack his future with the same qualities of character. The trail that Alain has beaten has inspired a new generation of young ski racers who now follow in his tracks."

However, it was at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City in Utah when the Scottish racer, named after the French 1970's ski star Alain Penz, was thrust into the media spotlight.

Baxter won an Olympic bronze medal in the men's slalom - Great Britain's first Olympic alpine medal in history.

Subsequently, a sample test for the drug methamphetamine, an ingredient in US manufactured Vicks inhalers, led to the International Olympic Committee requesting the Scot hand back his medal.

Significantly, he was later cleared of the alleged offence and received support for the return of his medal from the British Olympic Association and Sebastian Coe.

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