Winter Olympics 2014: Andrew Musgrave says finishing 44th in the 15km men's classic was akin to skiing like a 'tranquilised badger'

Musgrave was left to consider what could have been after he was unable to repeat his impressive sprint performance in the 15km cross country race

Andrew Musgrave has blamed his build-up preparation for his dissatisfaction at his Winter Olympics results in Sochi after finishing 44th in the 15km men's classic.

Despite becoming the first Briton to reach the quarter-finals of the men's cross country sprint earlier this week as well as achieving a respectable result in the classical distance race, Musgrave has been clearly unhappy with his efforts.

He was surprisingly beaten on Friday by British team-mate Andrew Young, who finished seven places higher, and is aware he is capable of achieving more.

"It wasn't amazing, I still feel a bit like I did in the sprint. Well I felt a little bit better," he said after completing Friday's race in a time of 42 minutes and 25.7 seconds - three mins and 56secs adrift of Dario Cologna, who sealed his second gold medal in this event.

 

"I opened off on the speed I normally would do and up until about halfway it was going alright.

"Usually I open up at that speed and increase in the second half, whereas today I started off at a good speed but by halfway, instead of being able to increase, I just died."

The 23-year-old labelled his performance in the sprint as "crap", later tweeting he skied like a "tranquilised badger".

He was in a better mood on Friday and reflected his feelings of underachievement may be down to his preparation before the Games.

"I think I just maybe trained too much volume and didn't ease off enough before," he said.

"Maybe I've not peaked early enough with too much volume coming right into the Olympics.

"I felt a little bit better than I did in the sprint although my position's not going to be as good, physically I felt a little better.

"So hopefully my form's on its way up."

Musgrave will be hoping for cooler conditions in the team sprint and the 50km freestyle than the ones he faced on Friday, with the sun-baked Laura Cross-Country Ski & Biathlon Center forcing many competitors to race in a T-Shirt - and one hardy Norwegian in shorts - as well as stop at drinking stations.

"It was absolutely horrible," Musgrave added. "I don't envy the marathon runners who run in a marathon in 30 degree heat."

Young agreed with his British team-mate, despite exceeding his own expectations in a time of 41mins and 29.6secs.

"It was horrible," he said. "Imagine running on the spot in a sauna for 45 minutes and that was what it was like for us.

"The sun here is so strong, we're so far south, the high altitude, it was absolutely horrible. You're just dying the whole way around.

"I had four drink stations today and normally in a 15k I don't drink at all. It was so hard."

After finishing 37th, Young admitted his poor performance in the sprint, where he placed 42nd in slushy conditions, spurred him on.

"That was an awesome race. I was really happy," the 21-year-old added.

"I was really angry that I didn't ski to my potential in the sprint so here I think that fuelled the anger. I just went for it and I really enjoyed myself."

Twenty-one-year-old Callum Smith came further down in 67th, and said: "I had a pretty good race."

Switzerland's Cologna benefited from the late withdrawals of pre-race favourites Norway's Petter Northug and home home Alexander Legkov to defend the title he first won in Vancouver 2010.

A sensational time of 38:29.70 saw the 27-year-old take gold by a clear margin, with Johan Olsson earning silver after finishing 28.5secs behind, while fellow Swede Daniel Richardsson took bronze 10.3secs further back.

PA

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