Musgrave targets upturn in Olympic fortunes

Andrew Musgrave is a relative veteran of the Olympic Winter Games but believes into he has unfinished business on the biggest stage.

The cross-country skier is satisfied with just one of his Olympic races to date – a seventh-placed finish in the 30km in PyeongChang – while disappointment in the sprint in Sochi four years earlier saw him take to Twitter to lament skiing ‘like a tranquilised badger’.

Musgrave is phlegmatic when discussing his Games experiences so far and having finished inside the top 10 in the 15km, 30km and 50km at the World Championships earlier this year, the 31-year-old is eager to continue showcasing his medal credentials as he builds towards his next Olympic chapter – one he hopes will bring a change of fortunes.

“If I keep doing what I was doing last year and make a couple of improvements, I feel I’m in with a decent shot [of a medal],” he said.

“My first Olympics in 2010 was a learning experience and in 2014 I had a very outside chance – I ended up getting ill between the sprint and distance races, which was pretty rubbish.

“PyeongChang started off pretty well in the 30k but the races after that were not great. The race that should have been best for me was the 15k and I massively underperformed there. I still don’t really know why.

“But I’m older and more experienced now, and I know what I’ve got to do to be in form. I’ve built on from where I was in 2018 and I am definitely one of the podium potential guys.”

Born in Poole and raised in Aberdeenshire, via a move to Alaska, Musgrave enjoyed a nomadic upbringing before learning his trade at Huntly Nordic Ski Club alongside Andrew Young.

The pair remain inseparable – Musgrave will be best man at Young’s wedding in early 2023 – and have been joined in the British cross-country set up by James Clugnet, who has made no secret of his own medal intentions.

The healthy competition between the trio is raising standards in a sport Great Britain are yet to medal in at a Winter Olympic Games, something Musgrave is determined to change.

“We are a small team who spend a ridiculous amount of time travelling around together and we get on very well – which is good as it would be a struggle if we didn’t,” he said.

“The dynamic of the team is really good – Andrew and I have known each other for a ridiculous number of years and James has always been able to see there are two other guys from Britain who can do it, so there’s no reason he can’t.

“He has improved massively over the past few years and I don’t see any reason why he won’t continue that – and probably start beating me and Andrew soon!”

Based in Trondheim, Norway, Musgrave’s training regime has been largely unaffected by the pandemic – with a bigger bump in the road coming when he ‘ripped off my pec’ at the start of the year.

Now back to full fitness after shoulder surgery in the close season, the Scot will be continuing his preparations over Christmas as he prepares for the Tour de Ski, which begins on December 28.

“I will be training hard on Christmas Day,” he said. “My girlfriend is also a ski racer, so she’s coming down to join me, so it will be quite nice.

“What we are eating remains to be seen, we will make ourselves something, but I don’t think we will need a whole turkey for the two of us!

“I’m not in top form as of yet but the plan is to be in top form in February, so the Tour de Ski is a really good building block for the Games.

“I’ve been counting down the days for a long time [to Beijing], so every day is a new landmark for me! I feel like things are going as planned.

“At the World Championships last year, it was only the Norwegians and one of the Russians who were better than me.

“The Olympics are very different to any other Championships and the pre-Olympic event [in Beijing] got cancelled, so we’re all going in not knowing too much about it.

“I’ve been in China and raced previously and it tends to be slow snow, and quite windy and dusty.

“The main thing is to stay healthy and get the things done at the Games I need to get done. I feel I’m stronger now than pre-surgery and I’m super happy.”