Team GB’s Andrew Musgrave says training has gone so well, he should be in with a shot at a Winter Olympic cross-country skiing medal at Beijing 2022.
With 100 days to go until the Games, the 31-year-old is one of Britain’s top contenders for a spot on the podium in China, having also achieved the best British finish for a cross-country skier at a Games, placing seventh in the skiathlon at Pyeongchang 2018.
China will be Musgrave’s fourth Olympics, barring injury, and he has told Eurosport he is in good shape as the countdown prepares to step into double figure days - despite an injury which almost derailed his preparation.
Riiber takes Nordic Combined gold in Seefeld
“I feel that my training has been going super well. I've got no excuses if it doesn't go well,” he said.
“I had a wee injury at the start of late spring, where I managed to rip my pec muscle off. I had to have surgery and get that reattached and usually the injury takes a long time to recover from but I was super lucky.
“I got an operation very quickly, I had a good surgeon and I was back to pretty much full training after a couple months. I feel like I'm stronger now than I was pre-injury. It just got ripped off from the bone - it wasn't actually that painful!
“I've got Britain's best finish and I definitely have to be better than that at this Olympics. We do have a few things that make a difference for us, like skis, or if you mess up the waxing, then it can make a difference.
But to be honest, if I go in and I'm in the best shape I can be in, I think I'm going to be in with a shot of winning a medal.
Despite the lack of consistent snow in the UK, British cross-country skiing has never been so strong. Andrew Young is making serious strides, as is the up-and-coming skier James Clugnet.
Musgrave will be nearly 32 when Beijing comes around - an age where many endurance athletes really start to mature. No matter what the distance, the effort put into cross-country skiing requires serious power and endurance, and he believes he is coming into his prime.
“Getting older, more experience is an advantage,” he said.
Winter Olympics - The countdown begins with 100 days to go until Beijing 2022
“The more hours you've done through your life, the more you can cope with the longer distances, so definitely early 30s is a good time to be racing as a skier.”
GB Snowsport’s set-up is regarded as one of the most professional on the cross-country skiing circuit. Some of the best in the business have been recruited to make the most out of the talent available, and Musgrave believes that makes them a force to be reckoned with.
“One of the advantages that we have is that we are a small team,” he said.
“The Norwegians, they have 20,30 guys on the team and then it's really hard to give a tonne of super good support to every individual.
“There's only three of us on the A team, we get a lot out of fewer support staff and the support staff we have are really good at managing what we do and our resources really well.
“So I think we're lucky - being a small team can be both a disadvantage, but it can also be a bit of a blessing as well. I think we're good at making it a blessing rather than a disadvantage.”
- Beijing 2022 Olympic Games: Schedule, big names, key events and more
- ‘I definitely dare to dream’ - British skier Clugnet targets Olympic cross-country medal
Musgrave believes the sport is close to taking off in the country, and thinks roller skiing has a part to play in getting more Brits into cross-country skiing. In reality, increased success will ultimately result in more funding, and he believes the strides he has made - together with Young - have already set the wheels in motion.
“Seeing James (Clugnet) coming up behind me and Andrew, I think we've definitely seen that it's been an advantage for him because he sees us and if we can manage it, there's no reason he can't.
“There's a few guys coming up behind James as well and I think it's probably the same with them.
“Once somebody from Britain has managed to make it at the top level, everyone else behind can see it's doable.
“But for me and Andrew, there was no one ahead of us. We had to break those barriers ourselves. I think now we've done it, it definitely makes it easier for the guys coming behind to get to that level quicker.”
Norway skiing star Kruger tests positive for coronavirus
Clugnet credits team behind the team for his remarkable rise