- Andrew Musgrave, Andrew Young and James Clugnet form three-man Elite Squad
- Progress made in 2020/21 season sees promotions for four athletes in Performance and Continental Cup Squads
The 12 athletes who will represent Great Britain in Cross Country skiing for the 2021/22 season have been revealed, with James Clugnet, Andrew Musgrave, and Andrew Young heading the line-up in a three-man Elite Squad.
The Continental Cup Squad sees Gabriel Gledhill and Hamish Wolfe both move up from last season’s Performance Squad in place of the retired Nichole Bathe, while Beinn Horsfall and Joseph Rosenfeld are promoted from the Junior Squad to the Performance Squad, where they join Cameron Cruickshank and James Slimon.
Ida Ewald is a new addition to the nation’s Junior Squad, joining returning squad members Samuel Bojarski and Tristan Marshall with Molly Jefferies stepping back from the squad to focus on education commitments.
Despite a covid-disrupted 2020/21 season, GB Cross Country skiers nevertheless saw impressive results for the nation’s athletes, including Andrew Young’s Bronze in the Sprint in Davos, and a Silver in the Dresden World Cup, the best ever result for a British Cross Country athlete. Andrew Musgrave achieved the country’s best ever result in the Classic discipline with a 6th place finish in Ruka and three top-10 finishes at World Championships, while James Clugnet recorded an outstanding 8th place finish in the Davos World Cup Sprint Free.
The nation’s younger talent also made significant contributions, with Gabriel Gledhill, James Slimon and Hamish Wolfe all competing at the WJC/U23s in Vuokatti, Finland, in February. Gledhill, meanwhile, was called up to the WSC as an injury reserve gaining valuable experience at the sport’s highest levels.
Sophie Morrison, GB Snowsport Olympic Team Manager, said:
“We are delighted with the progress our Cross Country Squads made last year despite the very real challenges faced by all our athletes throughout the season. Across all four of our squads we have some really talented and committed competitors, and we’re looking forward to supporting each of them to achieve more excellent results this year.”
Andrew Musgrave, GB Cross Country Elite Squad athlete, said:
“Last year was a tough one for everyone in the sport, but with so many of us achieving excellent results I think we really showed what we can do as a country. One of the great things about this team is that we really drive each other on, and our results show that we’re on the right track. My finish in Ruka and World Championships results give me something to build on, and like the rest of the squad I’m super focused on getting myself into top condition for the new season.
“We all know how big this year is for British athletes in all disciplines and, as a team, we’re raring to go!”
James Clugnet, Andrew Musgrave, Andrew Young
Continental Cup Squad
Gabriel Gledhill*, Hamish Wolfe*
Cameron Cruickshank, Beinn Horsfall**, Joseph Rosenfeld**, James Slimon
Samuel Bojarski, Ida Ewald†, Tristan Marshall
* Promoted from Performance Squad
** Promoted from Junior Squad
† New Squad Member
The 2021/22 Cross Country season begins on 26 November with the Ruka World Cup in Finland.
GB Snowsport and British Biathlon have set out ambitions to boost the nation’s Nordic talent pool with a new talent identification campaign aimed at uncovering new talent which, alongside our current cohort of young athletes, will form the next generation of British snowsport competitors.
The campaign, developed to target 15-22 year olds with a background in endurance sport, is part of wider efforts led by GB Snowsport and supported by Snowsport Scotland and Snowsport England to strengthen the country’s talent domestic pathway and provide young British athletes with a clear roadmap to representing their country at future Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
The focus on the Nordic programme comes as part of a wider GB Snowsport talent and pipeline strategy which builds on the efforts of the Home Nations and the British Academy system to help boost medal prospects on the World Cup, World Championships and Olympic and Paralympic circuits among other outcomes. As the country builds towards the Beijing 2022 Games, the sport’s talent campaigns are increasingly focused on the 2026 and 2030 Olympic and Paralympic cycles.
Discussing the British Biathlon/British Nordic campaign, and GB Snowsport’s wider commitment to the talent pathway, Mark Ritchie, GB Snowsport Head of Talent, explained further.
Why is this campaign launching now?
Understandably there’s a big focus across all of snowsport right now on the 2021/22 season and the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, but we also have to focus on what’s happening four or even eight years down the line. Creating more success for Britain over the next decade means making smart decisions now about how we boost our talent pool right across the country.
What are you aiming to achieve with this campaign?
In direct terms, we want to be in a position where we identify and support athletes to compete and achieve credible results at the 2026 and 2030 Olympic Winter Games. More generally, we want to cast a wider net in terms of the talent we’re accessing and in finding new athletes to support through our talent and domestic programmes. Across our disciplines we’ve got some young athletes demonstrating real potential, but we know there’s no point resting on our laurels – we’ve got to find and nurture as wide a pool of talent as we possibly can, whether it’s in Nordic or any of our other disciplines where appropriate.
How does this fit into the wider GB Snowsport talent plan?
This piece of work is a really important part of our pathway planning, but it is just one aspect of what we’re looking to achieve. Right now, we’re working really closely with the Home Nations in England, Scotland and Wales to make sure we’re joined up in our approach to bringing talent through at every level of the sport; campaigns like this are designed to supplement the efforts that are already in place across the whole of the pathway.
Are there any other areas that GB Snowsport is focusing on?
One of the things we’re really working hard on is ensuring that we’re as open and accessible a sport as we can be. One of the great benefits of running a campaign like this is that it’s specifically designed to tap into a completely new pool of potential athletes. That can only be a good thing in terms of building our representation and the diversity of our athlete pool over the next decade.
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!
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.