Kirsty Muir hoping to hit Olympic high after turning back on ‘boring’ skiing
Kirsty Muir’s appetite for air-time led her to turn her back on “boring” alpine pursuits and commit to the ramps and rails that could see her soar into medal contention at the Winter Olympics in Beijing
The 17-year-old from Aberdeen is one of a new generation of skiers for whom the desire to emulate Dave Ryding’s historic World Cup slalom victory in Kitzbuhel in January no longer cuts much ice.
Instead Muir spent time around the last Olympics cutting and pasting pictures of fellow freestyle skier, world and Winter X Games champion James Woods for a school project on her favourite athlete.
Muir, the youngest member of the 50-strong GB team for the Games that also includes Woods, admitted: “I always loved going fast but I definitely found skiing a little bit boring when I was younger.
“I liked the creativity and adrenaline that came with freestyle. There’s so many parts you get a thrill from – learning new tricks or just being in the air. Just to be in the air and be like, wow, I’m actually flying.”
Muir fulfilled her enthusiasm on the dry slopes of Aberdeen before transferring her talent to snow with such success it prompted three-time Winter Olympian and now GB coach Lesley McKenna to call her a “once in a generation talent”.
She won a silver medal in the Big Air at the 2020 Youth Olympics at the age of 15 despite struggling with the pressure of starring on such a big stage – an experience Muir believes she will be able to use to her advantage in Beijing.
“I made the Youth Olympics such a big thing in my head so I was very nervous,” admitted Muir, who has put her Highers on hold to compete in Beijing. “I was scared to hurt myself because I wanted to get to these Olympics so much.
“But over the last two years I’ve learned to take every competition as it is. Lots of people get injured, and it was more about accepting that one day it is going to happen, and you’ve just got to put as much trust as possible in yourself not to get injured.”
Muir packed books from the ‘Throne of Glass’ series – the story of a teenage assassin in a corrupt kingdom – in her luggage for the Games and is relishing the opportunity to team up with her idol Woods.
“I looked up to Woodsy a lot, and when I started out at secondary school we had to do a school project on an athlete we looked up to, and I did it on Woodsy,” added Muir.
“It was just a little A4 brochure but we had to present it in class and explain why we admired that particular athlete so much. It is crazy to think I am now setting off to an Olympics with Woodsy as my team-mate.”
Muir is set to compete in both the ski slopestyle and Big Air disciplines in Beijing. She is scheduled to make her Olympic debut in the women’s Big Air qualifiers in Beijing on February 7.