Scottish Daily Mail


Musgrave ‘gutted’ at seventh place in skiathlon

- RIATH ALSAMARRAI reports from Pyeongchan­g

AFTER 28 of the 30 kilometres, Andrew Musgrave thought he had given the Norwegians one hell of a beating. A moment later he was ‘gutted’ that his only prize for a quite staggering performanc­e was a piece of British history.

That the Scot finished seventh in the cross-country skiathlon is no small thing, particular­ly in light of other British performanc­es in these Games, but the 27-year-old did not see it the same way. He was disappoint­ed and, when he was done with disappoint­ment, he moved on to anger and a little dejection. An improvemen­t of 22 spaces on Britain’s best result in an Olympics cross-country event is not what drives him to train 1,000 hours a year, he said. Not why he moved to Norway to front up to the best, he added.

It was quite the display of self-flagellati­on and also rather surprising considerin­g the assumption was that he would place well out of the running in what is supposedly his weaker event.

Indeed, Team GB have him pegged as a fringe contender for a medal in Friday’s 15km freestyle, but this one? Nothing quite so lofty. Yet there he was, second with 2km to go, trailing Norway’s Simen Hegstad Kruger but leading the rest. Dario Cologna, the three-time Olympic champion from Switzerlan­d, was behind him. So, too, Martin Johnsrud Sundby, the Norwegian holder of two world titles and medals from the past two Olympics. At that point, Musgrave set off to catch Kruger, got no help from the rest of the pack, and, sapped from working alone in the wind, fell back to seventh on the second to last hill. Norway turned in a 1-2-3; Musgrave turned in a fine performanc­e in any estimation bar his own.

‘It’s a little bit like a medal that got away,’ he said. ‘I felt awesome with about a lap-and-a-half to go and I felt that I would be in the fight for the victory.

‘It’s a decent result but I’m not at the Olympics to come seventh. I’m here to fight for a win. That’s why I do this.

‘I think all the guys at the top, if you don’t believe you can win, then you’re not going to spend the thousand hours a year that you do out training, suffering every week through interval sessions and pushing our pain limits every single session. You don’t do that if you don’t believe you can win.

‘If you told me ten years ago that I would be seventh in the Olympics, I wouldn’t have thought I would be disappoint­ed with it. But that is what makes an athlete — you want more. You want to push harder, you want World Cup points and, when you get that, you want the podium, and, when you have that, you want to win, and then you want to win more.’

An impressive speech, and an attitude that compensate­s for some of Britain’s natural disadvanta­ges in snow sports. But it is also necessary to understand the disparity between the Nordic nations and British operations when assessing the merits of finishing seventh.

As Musgrave put it: ‘It’s just a completely different world for the Norwegians. It’s their national sport and you just can’t compare what we’ve got with what they’ve got.

‘They have this massive support team. Today our coaches were out doing all the wax testing. We’ve got one guy waxing all the skis and the Norwegians have got so many (around 25). It’s just completely different.’

His next outing is on Friday in the shorter distance of 15km, in which he will have freedom of style unlike the skiathlon (15km classic and 15km freestyle), and he is convinced he can win a medal.

Musgrave said: ‘This does give me confidence. The 15km should be my best event. I was in the fight for the medals here until the last couple of kilometres. So when this isn’t my best, come Friday I should be in the fight for the victory. See you on the podium.’

 ?? PA PA ?? So close: Andrew Musgrave leads the chasing pack So close: Andrew Musgrave leads the chasing pack but is disconsola­te at the end (inset)
PA PA So close: Andrew Musgrave leads the chasing pack So close: Andrew Musgrave leads the chasing pack but is disconsola­te at the end (inset)
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