We caught up with GB Snowsport Nordic athlete Andrew Musgrave with one year to go until the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.

How are you feeling with one year to go until Beijing?

It’s been a bit of a wild ride this last year, and although we should hopefully be back to some sort of normality by then, I am concentrating on the here and now. To be honest, after the past year we’ve had I think we all know not to plan too far in advance.

How do you keep motivated in the short term when you are working towards an end goal that is relatively far in the future?

It’s important to always have a long-term plan building up to the Games or any another goal, but it’s also equally important to have shorter-term goals on the way to focus on and keep the motivation up. As a skier we’ve got the World Cup circuit to focus on throughout the winter, which definitely keeps me motivated to stay at the top of my game!

What is the toughest part of your training schedule?

The toughest part of our training schedule is definitely VO2 max testing. I am nervous for days beforehand, because I know it’s going to be so painful! 

What is your favourite part of training?

My favourite part of training is finishing off a high intensity session (like VO2 testing). I’ll be nervous beforehand, it’s horrific and painful during, but if I’ve had a good session and really managed to push hard, I get an almost euphoric sense of relief and achievement when I’m finished. It almost makes the nerves and suffering worthwhile!

Do you listen to music when you train? If so, what is your favourite motivational track?

I listen to a lot of podcasts while I’m doing long, low intensity training, but if I’m doing interval training then I definitely like to have some tunes on the go! I’ve got a bit of an eclectic mix of go to songs for intervals: everything from drum and bass to 80s alternative. 

How are you preparing mentally for competition day? Do you have any tips for others on teaching yourself to overcome the nerves and stress of those situations?

I make sure I have a plan for the race, and have checked all my equipment and got everything ready in plenty of time, so I don’t have to run round like a headless chicken trying to find poles, boots and various bits of equipment at the last minute. I’m usually nervous before the most important competitions, but I just try to embrace the nerves. Most of my best races are when I’m really nervous.

Are there any big milestones between now and the Olympics that you are working towards?

We’ve got the World Championships coming up at the end of February which is definitely the big goal for this season.

What do you do to unwind after a really tough training day?

After a really tough training day I’m usually so knackered that I just head to bed as early as possible and sleep!

A four-strong team will represent GB Snowsport at the FIS U23 Cross-Country and FIS Nordic Junior World Ski Championships in Finland.

The event, which is spilt between juniors (U20s) and U23s, runs from 8th – 14th February, will see GB Snowsport compete across Cross-Country and Nordic Combined.

Gabriel Gledhill – Cross Country WJC

James Slimon – Cross Country WJC

Hamish Wolfe – Cross Country U23

Mani Cooper – Nordic Combined WJC

Vicky Gosling, GB Snowsport Chief Executive, said: “The Nordic Junior World Championship is a fantastic event for developing stars, providing a unique opportunity to experience a multi-discipline event.

We are excited that GB Snowsport will have four athletes competing. All have trained hard to be in a position to represent us in Finland and this event will provide them with some vital competitive experience.”

Mani Cooper, Nordic Combined athlete “ I am really happy to be heading out to Finland to compete in the Junior World Championships as a GB Snowsport athlete in these amazingly hard times. I feel very privileged and I will do my best.”

By Andrew Musgrave, GB Snowsport Nordic Athlete

I lived for 6 years in Alaska which is where I learned to ski; cross-country skiing was definitely more of a usual past-time there than it is in the UK! Although I learned to ski in Alaska, it was actually after moving back to the UK as an 11 year old that I really started to get into racing. The local club, Huntly Nordic Ski Club, was definitely the driving force behind me getting into proper training and where I started to take racing seriously.

Cross-country is an awesome sport because of how physically demanding it is. It’s a suffer-fest, but you really get to push yourself and test your limits, both physically and mentally. Like any endurance sport, you’ve got to be slightly mad to enjoy it… but once you get into it, it’s easy to get hooked!

The most important attribute that makes a successful cross-country skier is the ability to push yourself hard. If you’re going to win you have to have a big engine, but you also have to be able to cope with suffering and push through the pain better than your competitors. You’ve got to cope with huge volumes of training- sometime’s you’re so wrecked that just getting out of bed in the morning is a struggle, but in spite of this you need to get out and get the job done!

I like to look for inspiration from other sports, no matter what the sport there’s usually something you can learn from what they’re doing, whether it’s a chess player’s ability to make decisions quickly under pressure or gymnast’s strength and flexibility.

Pre-race I usually start to get nervous on the way to the venue. Heading out onto the track to warm up is a bit of a relief, I’ve got a standard routine and a checklist of things to get done. My body definitely seems to know what’s coming, just the act of going through the warm up triggers me to really get my race head on and helps convert my nerves into focussed energy. By the end of the warm up I’m always in the zone and raring to go!

If you’re interested in cross-country skiing, then you should give it a go! It’s an amazing form of training for the whole body, I’ve made it sound horrible and painful, but it can also be relaxing. There’s not much that beats taking your time gliding through the mountains on a cold, sunny day in the winter!

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By Mani Cooper, Ski Jumper and Nordic Combined Athlete

It was after watching the Four Hills Ski Jumping Tournament in Innsbruck with my dad that my sporting life took a turn. Even after him showing me how athletes can crash, I knew I wanted to give Ski Jumping a go. After two years with my club SV Innsbruck Bergisel, in 2013 I was selected for the Tirolean Ski Federation, this was where I was introduced to Nordic Combined. Since then I have been having so much fun with the discipline which combines Cross-Country Skiing and Ski Jumping. I was honoured to represent GB at the Youth Olympics in 2020.

A Nordic Combined competition weekend normally starts with a Ski Jumping competition, then using the points and ranking from that a Cross-Country race follows. Alternatively, the mass start format is occasionally used. This is where the Cross-Country race takes place before the Ski Jumping competition, everybody starts together, and the result is finally decided in the Ski Jumping.

For Ski Jumping I need my Jumping skis which are 228m long, helmet, googles, gloves, jumping boots and one of the most important things is the jumping suit. With Ski Jumping the suit can make a big difference on the performance in a competition. I have a few training suits but one competition suit which is fitted specially for me.

For Cross-Country skiing I have a race suit, a head band, glasses, poles, boots, and, of course, skis. The skis are very important, if you have the wrong ski for the snow conditions then the race is over. Each athlete has pairs of skis for different snow conditions as there are some big differences between wet snow, hard snow, artificial snow, or if the sun is shining, or it is snowing, or raining it all comes down to the ski testing which is done before the race to select the right ski.

I train at Schigymnasium Stams every week from Monday to Saturday. We normally go jumping 3 or 4 times a week together with ski roller or Cross-Country skiing. In addition, we also do a lot of gym work and fast jumping exercises. Every week is different as the training plan depends on what is coming up the following week and whether we have any competitions.

If you want to start Nordic combined or even if it is just Ski Jumping don’t be scared! You will soon realise that it is so much fun. Find the nearest club to your home and give it a go.