CROSS-COUNTRY skiings’s “Tour de Ski” ended last weekend with the climb up the “Monster Hill” at Alpe Cermis in Italy, where the last remaining 55 skiers of the 99 who started the Tour skied up a slalom course designed for skiing down.
Amongst those 55 was Andrew Musgrave from Oyne, Britain’s first ever entrant in the event.
Taking on the Tour de Ski is the nordic equivalent of entering cycling’s Tour de France where competitors have to have not only technical ability but also enormous physical endurance.
The nine races which comprise the Tour include both sprints (1 to 2 km) and long distance events, the longest being 35km, and are in both classic and skate disciplines (the skiing equivalent of breaststroke and freestyle in swimming), so participants have to have all-round ability.
In addition anyone who finishes more than 15 per cent behind the winner of any race is automatically disqualified from continuing the Tour.
Andrew never finished more than 10 per cent behind the winner and in several races he was only 4 per cent behind. In two races along the way he became the first British cross-country skier to earn World Cup points by finishing in the top 30, with his best finish position being 23rd.
At the end of the final gruelling climb Andrew merely said in his typical laconic style “It was hard”.
Britain’s head coach, Roy Young, on the other hand said: “It was another truly impressive performance at the end of what has been a heroic effort”.