ANDREW Musgrave has become Britain's greatest cross-country skier at a Winter Olympics in Sochi, but he believes his rivals will take the view that all he has demonstrated is that he can't cope with pressure.
The 23-year-old Scot arrived in Russia having stunned the best cross-country skiing nation in the world by comprehensively winning the sprint at the Norwegian Championships last month. Naturally Musgrave got excited, as did others, dreaming of an unheard of British Olympic cross-country skiing medal, but in that excitement came his downfall which has been cruelly exposed in Sochi.
Musgrave looked tired in the sprint prologue as he came 27th - Britain's best cross-country result at an Olympics - before failing to compete in the latter stages of his quarter-final.
He then finished 44th in the 15km classic and revealed afterwards that he had peaked in Norway and got carried away training in Sochi, while in the team sprint even luck evaded him with compatriot Andrew Young suffering a case of tachycardia.
However, Musgrave believes the reason for his failure in the sprint could be a cause for success in today's 50km mass start finale.
"So far it doesn't look like I am good at tackling pressure. I said after the 15km classic that I have been looking back at what I did leading up to the Olympics and I think I got a bit too excited and trained a bit too much basically," he said. "Things haven't gone at all according to plan so far - knocked out in the quarters in the sprint, went quite slowly in the classic, Andrew had problems. So it has not been ideal but there's still the 50km to go so hopefully things will turn around.
"I wouldn't say it was a storming success, but it is not complete abysmal failure. I was still top 30 in the sprint, but personally at least it is not what I have been dreaming of.
"This year I have obviously had more volume in my training, I have trained a little bit harder generally so hopefully I will have a better base and manage the full 50km without dying."
The 50km mass start is a tough way for Musgrave to end what has felt like a gruelling second Winter Olympics - he will be skiing for two hours in temperatures expected to exceed 15 degrees.
"I am feeling much better than last week, which is a good sign. I had a bit of cold the other day and had to take it easy for a few days and I feel quite a lot better after that," he said. "The 50km skate has never been my best event. For about 35km I will ski dead fast, but after that everything just stops. We will see how it goes."
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