Winter Olympics: Briton skiier blasts 'ridiculous' decision to shorten race

Organisers blamed "strong winds" for the change to the length of the 50-kilometre race. PHOTO: REUTERS

ZHANGJIAKOU (AFP) - British cross-country skier Andrew Musgrave savaged the "absolutely ridiculous" decision to slash the men's 50-kilometre mass start event to 30km because of freezing winds at the Beijing Olympics on Saturday (Feb 19).

Temperatures plunged to -17 deg C for the shortened race, but Musgrave was less than impressed by the change after finishing 12th.

"I thought it was a ridiculous decision," said the 31-year-old.

"If it's warm enough to race, then I don't see why doing an hour and a quarter or 30km, compared to two hours in the 50km, makes it any better.

"It's still the same temperature, it's still the same wind, so I thought it was an absolutely ridiculous decision."

Organisers blamed "strong winds" for the change to the length of the race, but Musgrave said: "I haven't got a clue why they did it. To be honest, I don't know what they were thinking. Seems a little bit strange to me."

Alexander Bolshunov won gold, his third of the Beijing Games, ahead of his fellow Russian Olympic Committee teammate Ivan Yakimushkin.

Yakimushkin called it "the right decision" to make the race 30km.

"It was a unanimous decision by all the teams to shorten it due to the weather conditions, so that the athletes would not freeze or come down with serious illnesses after this race," he said.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.