The Herald - Herald Sport
Last chance for Noel Baxter
Mother hopes to force BOA to let Scot compete in Vancouver slalom
The mother of Scottish skier Noel Baxter has taken legal advice in a bid to earn him a place in the men’s slalom in Vancouver, because she insists the selection system is flawed. “I have emailed [Tessa Jowell, the sports minister], and have a Scottish QC looking into it,” said Janice Dick yesterday.
NOEL BAXTER’S mother, profoundly hurt and angered by the injustice of the omission of her son from Britain’s Olympic ski team, has taken legal advice and lobbied sports minister Tessa Jowell in a bid to have the Scot added for the men’s slalom in Vancouver next weekend.
“I have made an appeal to the sports minister,” said Baxter’s mother, Janice Dick, yesterday. “I have emailed her today, and have a Scottish QC looking into whether there is any way to force the British Olympic Association to reconsider.”
A week ago yesterday, Baxter achieved one of the finest results of his career, fifth in the slalom at the Europa Cup race in Oberjoch, Germany. That comfortably falls within the stated BOA qualifying criteria, but outwith the prescribed time window.
Baxter went from 59th place after the first run to fifth overall. On the second run he was fastest of the field, five of whom were World Cup winners, and seven of whom are in the current world top 15. The race was won by Reinfried Herbst, favourite for gold in Vancouver, but on the second run the Scot beat the Austrian World Cup leader by the more than half a second. David Ryding, who is in the GB team in Vancouver, did not complete the second run.
Former Olympic downhiller Konrad Bartelski, chair of the GB ski selection panel, has already resigned over the intransigent selection system. Baxter, and fellow Scots Dougie Crawford, and Pam Thorburn, all appealed against their omission without success.
Mrs Dick has already doorstepped Sir Clive Woodward, the BOA director of elite performance, and appealed in vain to chairman Colin Moynihan.
“This is Noel’s time, and it has been stolen from him by this flawed selection system,” she said. “He is 28, the age at which his half-brother, Alain, had his best Olympics.”
Alain was disqualified from bronze in 2002 over innocent use of a proprietary inhaler which contained a banned substance. Mrs Dick added: “There is still time for them to change their mind. The event is on the final day of the Games, a week on Saturday.
“Britain has not taken up all the places allocated to it and these places are now being given to other athletes from other countries whom British skiers have been beating. Why don’t they use them?”
Baxter is from Aviemore, which has more Olympians per head of population than any town or city in Britain. Local opinion is reflected in comments to the effect that when London landed the 2012 Olympics, they knew they would be out in the cold for snowsport funding.
The Scottish Institute of Sport, who channelled funding to Scots like Baxter as the Snowsport GB body went into financial meltdown, tried to cushion the worst effects of cuts, but athletes were left with an uphill struggle to qualify.
Bartelski and his colleagues urged this be taken into account, but to no avail. “The institute has done a fantastic job, but they aren’t interested down in London,” Mrs Dick said. “I appeal to the BOA to get Noel there. Do they not want a medal?”
In last night’s Super-G, Aksel Lund Svindal looked set to win Norway’s fourth gold of the Games after a nearperfect run. The 27-year-old, second in the men’s downhill on Monday, completed the course in one minute 30.34 seconds. Bode Miller was 0.28 sec behind, with fellow American Andrew Weibrecht 0.31 sec further back in third.