Remember when England’s footballers lost a World Cup qualifier to Norway in Oslo in 1981? It prompted a now infamous bit of local commentary: “Maggie Thatcher — your boys took one hell of a beating!”
Well, in 2014, after beating the Norwegians at their own game by taking the national freestyle skiing sprint title, Andrew Musgrave couldn’t resist teasing his hosts: “Arild Monsen [the Norwegian coach], your boys took a hell of a beating!”
His chutzpah turned Musgrave into a cult figure in Norway, so unlikely was the sight of a bloke from a country with no pedigree in this most gruelling winter sport defeating their very best skiers. “It’s like a Norwegian coming to Lord’s and bowling out the England cricket team,” says the 27-year-old.
Yet though he was once an amusing novelty to the Norwegians, Musgrave has since spent so much time in his adopted country, mixing skiing with his engineering studies, that they now take him deadly seriously. “I’ve become an honorary Norwegian,” says Musgrave. “People back in Britain think I’m weird: ‘I mean, skiing uphill, what’s all that about?’”
He feels that, at 27, he’s in shape to win Britain’s first-ever cross country medals in the 15km event and the 30km skiathlon. “If you’d said that about any British cross country skier ten years ago, they’d have said you were mad.” Interview by Ian Chadband
When can I watch Andrew Musgrave compete in the Winter Olympics?