Beijing 2022: ‘I really dare to dream’ – British skier James Clugnet aims for cross country medal at Olympic Winter Games


British cross-country skier James Clugnet says he thinks he has “unlimited talent” and thinks winning a medal at the Beijing Winter Olympics is not beyond possibilities.

The 24-year-old has gone under the radar, with Andrew Young and Andrew Musgrave both having put GB on the sport map in recent years, but he is perhaps one of the country’s most promising prospects.

Born to a French father who was passionate about skiing and a British mother in London, Clugnet grew up on the snow, having grown up in the Alps. He speaks with a hybrid accent, but his passion for portraying his mother’s side is clear.

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In a World Cup event in December last year, he finished eighth in a sprint event – his best result at this level. The improvement has been rapid. Clugnet got into cross country 14 years ago, but it’s only been a few years since he’s been playing in an elite setting.

“I would like to say that I have unlimited talent and unlimited goals,” he told Eurosport.

“In my head, I always wanted to keep skiing until I couldn’t improve any more. I have improved over the past 10 years and would like to think that I can be the best in the world for many years to come.

“I think in a few years I can be at Andrew Young’s level, and I hope even higher.”

Clugnet, Young and Musgrave will all be in the squad for the GB squad, barring any disaster as each has already met the selection criteria. With that in mind, the youngest of the trio will try to do as many races as possible before the end of the year, when he then focuses on the peak for Beijing.

“I was definitely not good enough to join the France team, and they missed their chance because now I have the level to join them,” he said, explaining why he represents the Great -Brittany.

The configuration we have now with Great Britain is one of the best in the world. It was only because I joined the British team that I got good at skiing, which is crazy if you think about it. The country that has no snow.

“The coaches believed in me, and that made me believe in myself. When I raced in 2017 I competed in the world championships and I was in the 70s.

“The year after I trained really well, that’s when I got the support from UK Sport, and I took a giant leap that no one noticed because I went from being a bad skier to an average skier and then the next year I took another big step.

“In two years I have climbed to 12th place at the World Championships – it’s amazing and it’s all thanks to the great professionals who follow and train me.”

Clugnet believes Britain has the potential to become a force in ski disciplines over the next few decades. With the support of GB Snowsport and the enthusiasm of the public, he actually thinks the UK is a relatively untapped talent resource.

“Snow sport may not be considered that important in Britain, but I think it is important,” he said.

“The British love to ski, we can’t ski in Britain, but if you go to French or Austrian resorts, it’s packed with Brits. It’s gaining momentum, there are a lot of people in the summer, like roller skiing ”.

As for the medal in Beijing, Clugnet is quite serious about his chances – but he knows the best opportunity will be with Young in the team free sprint.

“I know I can make it to the semi-finals individually, so top 12, and when you get there anything is possible,” he said.

If I have a really good day, I can go to the final and to the podium – I really dare to dream. It’s so exciting to think of all the things that I am capable of doing, and when you achieve your goals, it’s an amazing feeling.

“If not individually, there will certainly be possible medals in the team.

“The classic style doesn’t suit us the best, but we have a good chance of securing a medal in the sprint, as well as in the individual. It’s really promising for the next few years.

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