CRAP, rubbish, terrible – by the sound of it you would have thought Andrew Musgrave had fallen over or finished dead last, not made history as Britain’s greatest ever cross-country skier at the Olympics in Sochi.
The 23-year-old jetted into Russia riding the crest of the wave having upset the best cross-country skiing nation in Winter Olympic history by winning the sprint at the Norwegian Championships a matter of weeks ago.
However the writing was on Musgrave’s wall – if no one else’s – that such an achievement wouldn’t be matched as early as the qualification round of the sprint where he placed 27th in 3:37.75 minutes.
He was still given a favourable draw in his quarter-final and started as he planned to by taking the lead – although a steep last hill in an already punishing 1.8km sprint killed him dead.
Musgrave fell from third to last and effectively walked over the finished well behind the five other athletes and top two needed to progress before expressing his utter disappointment at failing at such a stage.
Irrespective of what happened, just by getting to the final Musgrave became Britain’s greatest ever cross-country skier – but he was adamant that the course was his and a medal was his.
“I just didn’t have the day, the prologue went pretty rubbish,” said Musgrave, who claimed finishes of 51st, 55th and 58th on his Olympic debut in Vancouver in 2010.
“I skied terrible, that’s the word to describe it. I just didn’t have anything to give over the hills or anywhere basically. It wasn’t me on a good day. In the first quarter-final the guy that won it took the lead at the start and managed to stay in command the whole way and cruised into the finish.
“That was my plan, I got to the front at the start but as soon as we got onto the big, long hill I just realised that it was going to be a bit of a crap day.
“It is amazing course for me and if I’m having a good day I should be able to beat anyone in the world.
“It is a bit hard to swallow. If I was in the same shape I was at the Norwegians I think I would have been fighting for a place on the podium. I am never going to be happy with this, it was basically terrible.”
All four of Britain’s cross-country skiers were in action in the sprint with Andrew Young disappointed at placing 42nd in qualifying and missing out on the top 30 that reached the knockout stages.
Callum Smith, not being a sprinter, felt better about his 62nd while Andrew’s older sister Posy looked on the positive side of placing above her ranking with a 42nd when again the top 30 was required.
“I ended up slightly up on my ranking and anytime you can do that, it is not a bad race. I knew it would be really tough to get into the top 30,” she said.
Ola Vigen Hattestad clinched cross country gold for Norway in a sprint final full of crashes, while another Norwegian, Maiken Caspersen Falla, won the women’s event.