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Andrew Musgrave will be an Olympic champion one day, says top Norwegian coach

Musgrave will be an Olympic champion one day, says top Norwegian coach
By Sportsbeat

14/02/2018 at 16:10Updated 14/02/2018 at 20:11

It may happen tomorrow. It may happen in four years time. But Andrew Musgrave has all the traits to become an Olympic champion, according to coach Hans Kristian Stadheim.

Given Britain's history in the sport of cross-country skiing – no Olympic medals won and until this week no finishes inside the top 20 – that might look like blind optimism.

But Musgrave is a man on a mission. And British coach Stadheim is a man who knows what he's talking about.

In the 30km skiathlon, Musgrave ripped up the history books, coming agonisingly close to a medal before still finishing an impressive seventh.

On the podium ahead of him were three Norwegians and two of them – Olympic champion Simen Hegstad Krueger and bronze medallist Hans Christer Holund – were athletes Stadheim has previously mentored.

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So when the Norwegian coach says to watch out for Musgrave in his favoured 15km free event tomorrow, it would be worth setting the alarm for 6am to watch.

"He has everything he needs to become Olympic champion. He's still young, he's 28 years old," he said.

"Normally you peak around 30, 32 years old, as in most endurance sports. So if it does not happen this Olympics then the next.

"Sunday was a very special day with Andrew and also Krueger, I've coached since he was 14 years old. I've coached the bronze medalist since he was five years old as well, before I went on to being the performance coach at British Nordic.

"But hopefully Andrew will come and crush the Norwegians on Friday."

Improvements in Musgrave's results have been noticeable since the two paired up two years ago, prior to the 2017 World Championships in Lahti.

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It was there that Musgrave fired another warning to the kings of Nordic skiing, beating all the Norwegians in the field, including three-time Olympic medallist Martin Johnsrud Sundby, when finishing fourth. Stadheim was employed permanently by British Ski and Snowboard later that summer.

Last December Musgrave also claimed his maiden World Cup podium finish with bronze in the 15km freestyle event in Toblach.

Despite relocating to Norway to train with the very best in the best, he is still fiercely proud of his roots and it is the Nordic authorities in Britain who are looking to keep up with their man of the moment.

"Of course we are a small team so it is David versus Goliath," added Stadheim. "At Norwegian cup races, there are 250 skiers there. So what Andrew is doing is enormous but he has everything he needs now.

"We now have a very good programme set up with British Ski and Snowboard. They are doing a tremendous job to allow the skiers to be as good as they can.

"But of course you have to do a lot of cross-country skiing. You can't just start doing this and then in three or four years time, you're going to be the best. I think other Brits will come along and there is a good talent programme."

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