Cross Country Skiing
Nordic star Musgrave continues to defy expectations
10 February 2018 / 15:57
Andrew Musgrave is nothing if not his own harshest critic.
Four years ago in Sochi he became the first British cross-country skier to reach the quarter-finals of the men’s sprint - but still wasn’t a happy chappy.
"Sometimes you ski fast, sometimes you ski like a tranquilised badger,” he said, famously.
The Scot had arrived in Russia fresh from winning gold at the Norwegian national championships. It was a bit like a team from the Lofoten Islands turning up at Lord’s and winning the village cricket title – by an innings.
Based in Norway and fluent in the local language, Musgrave is certainly no slouch on skis. Five-time Olympic champion Thomas Alsgaard, viewed as something of an authority on all things Nordic skiing, has compared him to another Olympic champion Petter Northug, an athlete with hero status in his native land.
Norway have won over 100 Nordic skiing medals in their Olympic history and Musgrave would have certainly made their team in Russia, he might be a Brit on skis but comparisons with Eddie the Eagle stop with his passport.
Now in South Korea, Musgrave - who goes in the skiathlon on Sunday - is joined by fellow Scots Andrew Young and Callum Smith, though they love to tease their teammates by eating dinner in the athletes’ village and conversing only in fluent Norwegian.
“I think the last Olympics taught me a lot, that win in Norway suddenly put attention on me and I then put lots of pressure on myself,” said Musgrave.
“Perhaps I started believing the hype and thinking I was a medal contender, when I wasn’t really. I did too much talking and media in the lead up and that’s not me.
“I think I’m a much better skier than four years ago and, perhaps, I’m a medal contender now. I think the difference is a bit more genuine belief. I feel that I should be at the level with the best in the world - and that’s without them having a poor day and me having a super exceptional day.
“Before Sochi if I had a good day I could beat or compete with the best guys in the world but I could go fast one day and slow the next.
“I’m more of a stable skier now so I should be able put good races together. On a good day - or even on average day - I should be fighting for the top ten or even higher than that on an awesome day. I do feel I belong and that’s why bringing home a medal is a realistic goal.
"You've got to put your energy resources in the right place.
“Training has been going really well and so I’m looking forward to getting going, I’m confident that I’ve got the right plan to do the best that I can.”