Musgrave rues bad day at the office

Burnley and Pendle Citizen: Andrew Musgrave became the first British cross country skier to reach the quarter-finals in a Winter Olympics Andrew Musgrave became the first British cross country skier to reach the quarter-finals in a Winter Olympics

Andrew Musgrave put his history-making exploits in the mountains above Rosa Khutor on Tuesday into sharp perspective by insisting: "I had a crap day".

Musgrave sought no solace in becoming the first Briton to reach the quarter-finals of the men's cross country sprint and recording the best finishing position in his nation's history.

After trailing in last of six in his quarter-final race, the 23-year-old Scot - who had raised his own expectations by winning the Norwegian Championships over the same distance last month - could not hide his frustration.

Close to tears, Musgrave said: "I skied terribly. On a good day I should be able to beat anyone in the world on a course like this, but today I just didn't have it and it's a bit hard to swallow right now.

"If I was in the same shape as I had been in two and a half weeks ago, I think I'd have been fighting for a place on the podium.

"I had a crap day. You have bad days no matter what and it just sucks that it was today. But it doesn't dampen my motivation. It motivates me to train harder and better and not to have a crap day next time."

As a rare British cross-country success story Musgrave, who speaks fluent Norwegian and is studying for a civil engineering degree in Trondheim, has emerged as something of a star on the cross country circuit.

He receives unprecedented attention from the Norwegian media in particular and spent part of the build-up to his second Olympics being persuaded by national broadcaster NRK to sing a rendition of The Proclaimers hit '500 Miles'.

The Norwegians themselves had been forced to contend that Musgrave had very real medal potential after storming up the final incline to beat the best they could offer in their national championships in Lillehammer.

A quarter-final qualification was the very least of his Musgrave's expectations but he looked worryingly flat in the prologue, where he only squeezed into the top 30 with three places to spare.

He immediately declared himself dissatisfied, despite that achievement eclipsing Tom Cairney's 28th place finish in the Cortina d'Ampezzo Games in 1956.

Placed in a six-man heat including Ola Hattestad, the Norwegian who was fastest in the prologue with a time 9.40 seconds quicker than Musgrave, the Scot set out strongly and took the lead as he looked to dominate the race from the front.

Musgrave added: "I saw how in the first heat the guy managed to get in front and stay in command the whole way and that was my plan.

"I got to the front at the start but as soon as we got to the big long hill I just realised it was a crap day. I'm never going to be happy with the way I skied that race. It was basically terrible."

Musgrave was left trailing and showed his frustration by slapping down his ski poles as he crossed the line, leaving Great Britain cross country team leader Roy Young to put his performance into context.

"This is an unprecedented achievement and it's amazing for Andrew to be in the quarter-finals," said Young after Musgrave's prologue success.

"In very tricky conditions it's a mighty step forward and his finishing position is within our target looking towards 2018."

Musgrave is expected to seek to make amends over his less favoured 15km classical distance on Friday along with team-mates Andrew Young and Callum Smith, both of whom failed to qualify from the prologue.

Young struggled in the slushy conditions and finished 42nd, 12.33 seconds behind the winner, while Smith, whose best events are at distance, placed 62nd.

Musgrave's older sister Posy Musgrave was happier with her own performance, but slightly disappointed that her 42nd place finish saw her miss out on a top 30 place by less than four seconds.

Musgrave said: "I ended up slightly good on my ranking, so any time you can do that is not a bad race.

"I knew it would be very tough to qualify in the top 30 and I would have to have had the race of my life to do it, but I'm feeling okay.

"I was nervous, but nerves are a good thing because it means you're psyched up for it and ready to go. I was probably more nervous than usual but I think I handled it well."

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