Andrew Musgrave is nothing if not his own hardest critic.
Three 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.
The Scot had arrived in Russia fresh from winning gold at the national championships … 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.
Musgrave, 26, bagged two top ten finishes on stages at the recent Tour de Ski but was left disappointed by his 18th place overall, even though it was his best finish at the event.
His expectations remain exacting, making up the numbers is not in his make-up.
“I’m a little bit disappointed because I had an awesome position and was looking good for the top ten but the last couple of stages went really badly,” he admitted.
“It was my best finish ever but I feel I should do better in a tour situation. I’m pretty decent in most things, sprints and distances races, so the Tour de Ski should suit me best.
“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.”
Musgrave was in red-hot form in the build-up to the last Olympic Games but was left disappointed by his performances in Sochi.
On reflection he believes he raced too much in the weeks beforehand and that’s changed his focus in the build-up to this season’s World Championships in Lahti, Finland.
“I’ve learned that I need to focus on the important dates in the season. In 2014 I raced too much and by the time I got to Sochi, I’d burned myself out a little bit,” he added.
“I’m going to do one more race before the Worlds and then I’ll do a solid bloc of altitude training.
“My training is better than ever and I’ve got the experience now too. At the last worlds I had a 12th and 16th but I’m a better skier than that now.
"I should be in there fighting for a medal but it’s one thing to say but quite another to do it but I’ve got really good form at the moment.”
Musgrave will swerve the Olympic test event in PyeongChang next month and he is steadfastly refusing to look too far ahead but admits the sprint course in Korea will probably not suit him, meaning his World Championship and Olympic focus will be on the 30km skiathlon.
"The time to focus on the Olympics will come but right now I'm about doing the best I can at the Worlds," he said.
By James Toney, Sportsbeat
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