Published: 01/06/2006 00:00 - Updated: 30/11/2011 14:24

Big day was no downhill event for ski star

Aviemore's ski hero, Alain Baxter, and his wife, Sheila, after their wedding in Dornoch Cathedral.
Aviemore's ski hero, Alain Baxter, and his wife, Sheila, after their wedding in Dornoch Cathedral.

AVIEMORE ski star Alain Baxter took a leaf out of the Queen of Pop's book and tied the knot with his very own Madonna in Dornoch at the weekend. World Cup slalom skier Alain (32) married businesswoman Sheila Dow (33) within the medieval splendour of Dornoch Cathedral on Saturday - the same venue where hundreds turned out to witness the christening of Madonna and Guy's son, Rocco, the day before the couple wed at nearby Skibo Castle. The Rev Susan Brown, who presided over the baptism of Rocco, conducted Alain and Sheila's wedding ceremony, which was packed with around 230 family members and friends. The couple met at Edinburgh GB downhill star Finlay Mickel's wedding in April last year, and after a whirlwind romance, the pair got engaged at Christmas. There were two best men for the big day - Chris Helik, a childhood friend of Alain who he worked with at the old ice rink in Aviemore before becoming a star of the ski slopes, and new GB ski coach Mark Tilston, former peformance director for the squad. The couple's wedding reception was hosted in a massive marquee erected in the grounds of spectacular Dunrobin Castle. The bride wore a champagne coloured wedding dress with an antique white train and diamond tiara. She arrived on time in a vintage Bentley to join Alain, who was in Highland dress and the MacMillan tartan. And in a nod to his connections with the snow, the racer, known as the Highlander, sported white socks and white shoes. After the ceremony, the newlyweds came out of the cathedral to be greeted by sun and showers and an eight-strong guard of honour holding skis above the happy couple. Alain popped the question to Sheila on December 24 whilst the pair were celebrating Christmas at her family home in Stirling. They then headed north to have a party with Alain's family in Aviemore on Boxing Day. Sheila said before the nuptials: "We are looking forward to a great day with all our family and friends. Alain was honourable and traditional when he asked to marry me and I didn't hesitate." Alain added: "I couldn't be happier. Sheila has been a great support and we are very much in love." His proud mum, Sue, said that the whole day had been fantastic. "It was just lovely; the cathedral was amazing, the service was really nice and Alain and Sheila made a very handsome couple," she said. Revellers, including former GB skiers Graeme Bell, Conrad Bartelski and of course half-brother Noel, partied late into the night at the marquee, and the huge dance oor was packed for most of the night, with music being provided by three different bands. Much of the salmon laid on for guests at the bash had been caught by Sheila's step-father, Peter, a keen country sportsman. Alain's grandfather, Chic, said: "We are delighted for them. Sheila is a great lass and will do Alain a lot of good." However, there will be no honeymoon just yet for the newlyweds, because Alain is due to be best man at Mr Tilston's wedding in Sweden in two weeks' time. Sue said: "Alain and Sheila did not want to rush their honeymoon but they were to be heading somewhere hot and sunny after Mark's wedding." Alain has been Britain's top skier for nearly 10 years, and he won a bronze medal in the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, USA, in 2002, only to be stripped of it a few days later after a drugs test proved positive for methamphetamine. It transpired that he had used an American Vicks inhaler on the day of the race to treat a nasal congestion condition that he has suffered from since his youth. The US version of the product contains the banned substance, unlike the British equivalent regularly used by Alain. Despite the honest mistake and a concerted campaign in his home village of Aviemore, the bronze was taken off Alain despite ruling authorities declaring that he had not gained any competitive advantage and clearing him of any wrong-doing.

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