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Musgrave confident of reversing Winter Olympic fortunes

·4-min read
Andrew Musgrave competes in the Men's Cross Country Skiing 15 km Free Technique interval start during the FIS Cross-Country World Cup on December 4, 2021 in Lillehammer.
Andrew Musgrave competes in the Men's Cross Country Skiing 15 km Free Technique interval start during the FIS Cross-Country World Cup on December 4, 2021 in Lillehammer.

THE Winter Olympics has not traditionally been a happy hunting ground for Andrew Musgrave but the Scottish skiing star is determined to put the record straight in Beijing.

Coming seventh in the 30km in PyeongChang in 2018 is the 31-year-old’s best Olympic performance to date and that was later overshadowed by his reaction to a disappointing performance in the sprint, when he took to Twitter to lament skiing ‘like a tranquilised badger’.

But Musgrave enters the new season fresh from recording his best World Cup finish in the 2020/21 season – 13th in the distance and 18th overall.

Having also finished inside the top 10 in the 15km, 30km and 50km at the World Championships earlier this year, Musgrave 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],” said Musgrave, one of over 1,000 athletes who are able to train full-time, access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support thanks to vital National Lottery funding.

“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 and learned 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,” added Musgrave, who is bidding to add to the 1,000-plus medals achieved by British athletes since the advent of National Lottery funding to elite sport in 1997 when he descends on the Chinese capital.

“Every time we did train together it never clicked, but it just clicked for that one race and that one moment.

“The dynamic of the team is really good – Andrew and I have known each other for a ridiculous amount 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.

“It has been good for him to have Andrew and I’m showing him that being a good British racer is doable.

“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, 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 surgery, the Scot is braced for a trip into the unknown in Beijing but is taking confidence from his impressive recent displays on the world stage.

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

“The Olympics are very different to any other Championships and the pre-Olympic event 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.”

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