Kirsty Muir, 17 was the youngest athlete to represent Team GB at the 2022 Winter Olympics, finishing fifth in The Big Air event. Her astounding results have left people wondering what’s next for the sport and how snow sports as a whole can be more gender exclusive.

I spoke to Kirsty after she finished school for the Easter holidays. In her sixth year at school, she is studying for her exams, the first ones she’s actually sat due to them previously being cancelled for Covid. After our call she was away to get packing for her next training camp with Team GB in Switzerland.

Having started skiing when she was only three years old in preparation for a family holiday, Kirsty took to the slopes naturally. She began training at Aberdeen’s dry slopes as well as the Lecht and Glenshee in the snow, a big advantage for Kirsty growing up in Aberdeen was that she had access to natural snow from November to May.

At the age of seven Kirsty began downhill skiing competitively, at the local kids club with downhill racing but that wasn’t where her passion within the sport lay.

“We did a lot of racing, but I was always looking over at the freestyle slope and thought to myself, I want to do that. The jumps looked really cool and I was so impressed with the tricks I would see people doing.”

Fast forward a decade – little did Kirsty expect to see herself on the international stage competing alongside elite professional athletes, not only that but she was now one herself. Competing in the Youth Olympics at 15, Kirsty was pretty much destined to compete at such a high level of competition and to come fifth overall at her very first Olympics, it looks like this is the beginning of an illustrious career.

After qualifying in the top 30 of the Big Air Women’s World Cup, Kirsty was left eagerly waiting to have her place confirmed by Team GB.

“I was over the moon when the announcement came through. I was skiing when they phoned me, in Colorado. I was on the chair lift when they called, I was really happy and proud to have been selected.”

In the aftermath of Covid-19, when so much of sports has been affected over the past two years. For athletes and fans alike, the ability to celebrate sports and their achievements alongside their fellow competitors: “It was pretty crazy mixing with all the different sports and people from all different countries,

“It would never happen in a normal situation. One of my favourite memories was, pin trading with the other athletes. We took pins that represented UK and swapped with people from other countries. It was a good way to get chatting to them and start a conversation.”

The Big Air event, where Kirsty placed fifth was her favourite competition: “The morning of the finals, we had to get up really early, so we made it to the top by sunrise. I stood at the top and watched the sun come up, I loved it, I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Despite her achievements on the slopes, Kirsty is still competing in a male dominated sport. For Kirsty, she shared that in her experience, it wasn’t that the boys in the sport were necessarily favoured to compete at higher levels but rather there was a lack of encouragement to get more girls involved in the sport.

“When I first got into freestyle competing, it was pretty much all boys, I’d say about 10:1. But there’s a lot of women and girls on the circuit now that are really pushing our sport and achieving at high levels. After seeing what’s been pulled off at the Olympics, we’re the ones that are here, letting people know about it,

“I love being a girl in my sport and showing everyone that we’re here and we can do it too.”

Want more info on snow sports and skiing, check out sportScotland, for how and where you can get involved.

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