The opening of the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships may not have taken place until the 21st February but, for British cross-country skier Rosamund Musgrave, the 10km freestyle final couldn’t come quickly enough.
Before the tournament began in Val di Fiemme, Britain’s Musgrave and Sarah Young participated in a 5km qualification race for the full distance final, taking place this Thursday. In coming third behind Lithuanians Diana Rasimovičiūtė and Natalija Kočergina, Musgrave experienced the joy of standing on the podium at a major competition.
Early success in the Italian mountains may be a major confidence boost, but it isn’t likely that we’ll be seeing Musgrave challenging for medals this week. In her two World Cup events this year, Musgrave has averaged 58th place, but a second place in Adelboden in January has given her the belief that she can better her 60th place finish in Oslo back in 2011. Even so, she admits that her strengths lie in the sprints.
“My results have really come in this season and the big thing for me is that I have been much more consistent. I am generally better in the sprints and I am looking forward to them,” said Musgrave. “The hills are quite tough and I didn’t want to burn myself out too early. I managed to stick to that plan and it went well.”
Sarah Young also enjoyed a decent run, creeping into the final in tenth, taking the last qualification spot. After fighting back from illness in Oslo, she fought the tough World Championship course and has a chance to grab a good final position on Thursday.
A number of medal races in the cross-country category have already taken place prior to today. The aforementioned Musgrave and Young entered qualification for the women’s sprint but missed out on the quarter-finals, finishing 59th and 74th respectively. It was a similar story in the men’s equivalent; Andrew Young was the pick of the Brits in 56th place, with Alexander Standen 82nd and Callum Smith 84th. All three were also poised to take place in the 30km pursuit but Standen failed to start. Instead it was Andrew Musgrave who finished 39th, way out of the medals at 2.24 minutes off the pace. Fiona Hughes was the sole Brit in the women’s 15km pursuit, narrowly avoiding being lapped down in 69th position.