If the Norwegians are the Ferrari of cross-country skiing, then Andrew Musgrave and his GB team-mates are, in his own words, like “a rally team from the middle of nowhere”. 

Such a comparison puts into perspective the task Musgrave has faced over the past 15 years to compete with men who were practically born wearing skis and have grown up immersed in  cross-country skiing.  

That Musgrave goes into the World Championships, which begin in Planica, Slovenia today, with a real chance of picking up silverware says much for his talent, determination and perseverance. 

Musgrave has been one of the world’s best cross-country skiers for a decade and having competed at four Olympic Games, seven World Championships and well over 200 World Cups, knows what is required to excel in one of the most physically demanding sports on the planet. 

In this week’s World Championships, Musgrave knows he will have to employ every shred of experience he has garnered to compete with the big boys from the Nordic nations. 

“In Formula One, the drivers who have the best cars and are in the best team generally do the best and it’s the same in skiing. So the Norwegians are the Ferrari of cross-country skiing,” the 32-year-old says. 

“They have this massive budget of hundreds of thousands of pounds, a massive truck they travel about in, a huge support team that travels with them, different skis and different waxes and that makes a massive difference. So for us from GB to peak on the right day and get the right skis and equipment spot on is tough. We turn up at events and park our little tiny van next to the Norwegians massive truck that pops down on both sides, and on top – it’s a triple decker and triple wide – and you really notice how stark the difference is. So, for us, it’s about focusing your efforts on the right things.” 

Having had a nomadic lifestyle, Musgrave is no stranger to adapting to his circumstances, which is likely why he has been able to overcome almost every obstacle in his way.

Born in Dorset, his family then travelled the world due to his father’s job in the oil industry, living in Shetland, Alaska, Aberdeenshire and these days, Norway, where he calls his home. 

He has long been a talented skier and made his international cross-country debut in 2008. And as the years have progressed, Musgrave has aged like a fine wine in terms of results.  It is in the past few seasons the Scot has come closest to major championships silverware, with a fourth place in the 50km race at the 2017 World Championships his closest call in terms of a podium place, before collecting six top-10 finishes in the 2019 and 2021 World Championships, as well as a seventh place at the 2018 Winter Olympics. 

Musgrave may be at a disadvantage in terms of the support network – he suffered a further blow in that respect when, last year, the sport their Lottery funding – but his impressive resume indicates he can peak when he needs to. 

It is that skill, coupled with his best World Cup result in five years when making the podium in Beitostolen in Norway in December, that has boosted his confidence for these World Championships, where he will contest the 15km, 30km and 50km races. 

“It was very, very nice to be back on the World Cup podium. I’ve always felt I had that level of skiing in me but it’s about getting it out on the day,” he says. “One thing I’m good at is being able to focus on the championships and look at the bigger picture. That’s definitely an experience thing. In my first couple of years as a senior, by the time the World Champs came round I wasn’t always at my best. But then a few years in, I learnt what I needed to do.” 

A first World Championships medal this week for Musgrave would not only be a personal milestone but also make history for Great Britain, with no one from these shores having scaled such heights. While Musgrave has too many miles under his belt to become over-confident, he is, he believes, in as good a position as he has ever been to get his hands on his first piece of global championship silverware. 

“I feel like my form’s as good as its ever been and we’ve made it work even without the funding, so I feel confident that there’s everything there I need to do well,” he says. 

“With the 50k being a freestyle race, that’s probably my strongest chance on paper but I feel like in all three events, I’ve got a good chance of doing well if all goes to plan.”