Winter Olympics 2014: Sochi calling for Clash quartet with Andrew Musgrave ready to take centre stage

 

Sochi

Its proper name is the Clashindarroch forest. In Huntly, they just call it the Clash. Either way, this remote corner of north-east Scotland has become one of Britain's more improbable Olympic breeding grounds.

There has not been much snow this winter to cover the Clash, but come Tuesday no one at the Huntly Ski Club will mind much, because their focus will be fixed far from home, on the Psekhako Ridge high in the mountains above Sochi. Here they have snow, and stockpiles of it too as, just like in Scotland, the winter weather does not always deliver what skiers want.

In the Clash they average 45 days of skiing a year – five years ago they enjoyed a bumper 118. That was the year Andrew Musgrave left Huntly for Norway, moving to the home of cross-country skiing. He left behind his sister Posy and his friends Andrew Young and Callum Smith. Now they are all back together; the Huntly Four are skiing for Britain in the Olympic Games. Tuesday is the big day when all four will compete in the sprint – Posy in the women's event, the other three in the men's – a 1.5km dash over four rounds culminating in finals.

"We have known each other since we were 10 years old and trained with each other since we were 10," says Andrew Musgrave of Young and Smith. "When one person starts getting better, it helps to boost the level of everyone else in the club. We all push each other in training sessions. Roy Young, the coach of the British team [and also here in Sochi], is actually from Huntly. So he was coaching at Huntly ski club before he became the British coach. That has had a massive impact on us."

The Musgraves learnt to ski as children in Alaska before the family moved back to Scotland and found their way to the club. The siblings – Andrew is four years Posy's junior – have egged each other on, each fiercely competitive. "I didn't want to be beaten by a girl," says Andrew.

He was 11 when the family moved to Huntly, and discovered two like minds in Smith and Young, Roy's son. The three boys would train for hour after hour, pushing each other on. Andrew Musgrave was the one who stood out, and so after leaving school he headed for Norway. Five years on, he is settled, mixing skiing for a club with studying for an engineering degree in Trondheim. And last month he became big in Norway.

In an Olympic year the Norwegian championships double as their national trials for the Games. They are shown live on TV and dominate the newspapers. Musgrave won the sprint, beating many men aiming for medals on Tuesday. That evening his extraordinary upset led the news on NRK, the national broadcaster. "All the Norwegian press were shocked that this British guy had beaten all their Olympic hopefuls," says Musgrave.

This will be his second Games. He came 51st in Vancouver four years ago, but his improvement over this Olympic cycle has been dramatic. "I don't really know what to expect," he says. "Definitely I feel like I should be able to qualify at least for the semi-finals. Once you reach the semi-finals, you have a good chance of qualifying to the final. Once you are in the final, anything can happen."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test