Andrew Musgrave is having a historic 2015 Tour de Ski. After a series of strong classic races and a 18th place in the freestyle sprint, the British skier earned the fastest time in the fifth stage’s 25 k freestyle pursuit in Toblach, Italy. Starting the day in 21st, Musgrave crossed the line with a course-time of 53:29.3, improving his Tour standing to 11th.
FasterSkier caught up with Musgrave as he prepared for the final two stages of the Tour in Val di Fiemme, Italy to talk about the race, his goals, and the future of British skiing.
FasterSkier: Yesterday you earned the fastest time in the 25 k, which is your best result in a World Cup and a historic moment for both and your team. How are you feeling right now?
Andrew Musgrave: I definitely haven’t won a World Cup before so it was a lot of fun. It was definitely a good result and hopefully it will get some good media coverage at home and promote skiing in Britain. In pursuit-style skiing you can’t read too much into the fastest time because it depends on who you end up starting with and how fast you go and what they do at the front. It was awesome but at the same time you can’t read too much into it.
FS: Why was yesterday’s pursuit so successful for you? what was your winning combination?
AM: I was quite lucky with my start. I did start right behind [Maurice] Manificat. So I just sprinted from the start, caught up with him, and tagged on behind him for 25 k. Also the wax team did such a good job with our skis. It was so fast it was almost like I was cheating because I got so much rest. The other guys were free skiing and I was just sitting behind in a tuck.
FS: I’m guessing you’ve received an outpouring of support from home. How has that been?
AM: For the people who follow cross country skiing, I’ve gotten a lot of messages from them saying well done and what a good day it was. It’s not every day in British skiing that you get messages from lots of different people. It’s definitely a pretty cool experience.
FS: The Tour has been pretty good for you with the a top-20 in the Val Mustair sprint and a couple strong classic races.
AM: Val Mustair was actually really good fun because both myself and the other British skier Andrew Young made it into the top-20. We have a little rivalry and heat got me in 15th. My brother actually sent me a message that said ‘the only reason you went fast [in the pursuit] was so that you could out-do Andrew Young’s result from the sprint in Val Mustair. The Tour in general has gone pretty well and it was cool to see that there were two of us, and not just me. Andrew pulled out after Val Mustair and headed to Scandinavia to race in the Scandinavian Cup in Falun this weekend.
FS: With two stages left in the Tour de Ski what are you looking to do in the remaining two stages?
AM: It’s a good question. First thing is first, I’m going to try and get through the 15 k without loosing too much time. That’s my main aim for tomorrow. Classic has never been my best – I actually had a pretty good day in Oberstdorf where I ended up in 26th. The classic in Toblach was ok but I double-poled that so it is hard to say. I don’t think anyone is going to double-pole the course here in Val di Fiemme. If I get through that without loosing too much time then hopefully I should be able improve up the hill on the last day. I had a pretty good day up the hill last year so hopefully I can do it again. Maybe I can be in the top-15, maybe the top-10. I don’t know. I’m just going to take it as it comes.
FS: Andrew Young’s success demonstrates that the British team is growing. How do you see the team progressing in the future and do you see further success for the British team on the horizon?
AM: I hope so. Definitely me and Andrew have improved the last few years so hopefully we’ll be able to keep that up. There are now another few guys at the senior level racing with us – we had a team of four at the Olympics last year. Hopefully a few of those guys will start getting some points on the board at the World Cup, and hopefully that will lead to a bit more interest in the sport in Britain, and more people getting involved in the sport in general.
FS: What needs to happen for British skiing to grow?
AM: If you get one or two good results at the Olympics or World Championships level, it can make it into the media. It might catch more people’s attention and get a few more people involved in skiing. In a country like Britain where there isn’t that much snow, cross country skiing is never going to be that big of a sport. What’s really important is getting a really good fixture in place and keeping as many people in the sport as possible who start getting involved with it at one point or another.
FS: What can we expect to see from you in the rest of the season? What do you want to accomplish in the remaining World Cups and at World Championships.
AM: The two biggest focuses this year were the Tour de ski and will be the World Championships. After racing here I’m going to head back to Norway and get in a good training block in before the World Championships. So I’m not going to make the World Cups in Russia or in Estonia. I’ll race in the Norwegian Championships to get back into things. Then I’ll race the World Cup before the World Championships in Östersund. After the Tour the main focus is on the Championships, and especially the pursuit and the 15 k there.
FS: What are your goals for the Championships? A possible medal?
AM: It would be awesome. If I end up having the best day of my life with the best skis of my life, I could end up on the podium. Realistically I should be pretty happy if I am within the top-10 at World Championships. That’s what I’ve given myself as a goal – a top-10 in the skate race at World Champs.
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Lander Karath is FasterSkier's Associate Editor from Bozeman, Montana and a Bridger Ski Foundation alumnus. Between his studies at Middlebury College in Vermont, he is an outdoor enthusiast and a political junkie.