Andrew Musgrave believes cross-country skiing’s traditional powerhouses must get used to the sight of British racers challenging for places on a World Cup podium.
The 27-year-old became the scourge of Norway once again when he finished fourth in the 50 kilometres at last weekend’s World Championships in Lahti, Finland – beating all of the dominant nation’s big stars.
One Norwegian newspaper described Musgrave’s ascendancy as “a scandal” – three years after he had caused a similar stir by skiing off with the prestigious Norwegian domestic title.
Musgrave, who was born in Dorset but lived in Shetland and Aberdeenshire, reckons the success of the small Great Britain squad, which included a World Cup bronze for team-mate Andrew Young two years ago, has forged a new level of confidence.
Musgrave said: “I think definitely the other racers on the circuit know who we are now and we are seen as proper competitors by them.
“You could take the size of our back-up team and times it by 10 to get to the level of the Norwegians, but we have still been able to do well despite having such a small squad.
“I don’t really see it is as a disadvantage. A few years ago it might have been, but now I believe we are a good, professional team that is good enough to win World Cups.”
Musgrave admitted his success over 50km came with a tinge of disappointment as he failed by less than two seconds to claim an historic first podium place.
He added: “I felt pretty strong and I thought if I’d have been able to ski just a little bit better it might have been enough to take at least the bronze.
“But it’s definitely the best performance of my career in what is not my strongest event. The result just shows that the team as a whole is doing something right.”
Musgrave will be up against it if he is to repeat the feat in next year’s Olympics in Pyeongchang, where the 50km distance will be contested using the classic style.
Cross-country is contested using two styles - skate and classic - with the majority of the programme at each Games alternating between the two.
It means Musgrave, who has enjoyed all his success in skate so far, is more likely to focus on the 30km skiathlon, which is the only event contested using a mixture of both styles.
Having described his performance at the 2014 Sochi Olympics as that of a “tranquilized badger”, Musgrave admitted he is eager to focus on what will be his third Games.
He added: “I’m still a little bit disappointed with my performance in Sochi - I think winning a medal was a bit too optimistic, but I still think I could have skied a lot better than I did.
“Now I feel I’ve improved and I am more capable of winning an Olympic medal. I know it would take a ridiculously good day for it to happen, but the fact I am able to talk about it just shows how much the team has improved.”