Kirsty Muir was high-flying in Beijing, the quiet girl of the Big Air underlining her status as something of an even bigger noise.
Muir, just 17, is the youngest member of the British team in China but her fifth place finish in the freestyle skiing Big Air final certainly didn’t shock her coaches, even if she appeared a little shell-shocked by it all.
On a course shadowed by cooling towers, on the site of a former steel works, this Scot may not have a medal but she’s certainly got metal.
It’s just 14 years since she first strapped on skis at the Aberdeen Snowsports Center but Muir has long been on the fast track to success.
She claimed her first senior World Cup medal last year and came sixth at the recent World Championships, little surprise she’s been labeled a ‘one in a generation athlete’ by fellow Scot and Olympic snowboarder Lesley McKenna.
Muir sat in bronze after the first run of the final, nailing a trick she had only done once before in competition, with action live on discovery+, Eurosport and Eurosport app,
But ultimately the experience of her rivals – she was the youngest to qualify – meant she slipped back, China’s Eileen Gu claiming gold in front of small but partisan crowd.
“It was an amazing competition and the level was just insane,” she said.
“I’m here to go for it and I’m really proud of myself for doing that. I’ve landed that trick before but I tried it with a different grab and I’ve only ever done that once before in competition, it’s the best I’ve ever done it.
“The energy of the crowd and the atmosphere was absolutely amazing. This was so different from anything else I’ve ever done, I was just so excited and I’m relieved everything went well.
“I’ve got so much time to come again, train and get better. It feels amazing to be competing against these girls because their level is so high and that’s inspiring. It’s a dream come true just to come to the Olympics, I’ I’m super happy.”
Born in San Francisco and nicknamed the ‘Snow Princess’, Gu could be one of the biggest stars of these Games, with competitions to come in the halfpipe and Slopestyle.
She is one of only two women to land a 1620 – an incredible four and a half spins – and it was ultimately the difference in a close battle with France’s Tess Ledeux and Switzerland’s Mathilde Gremaud.
Four years ago Muir watched the Olympics on her phone in the back of her parents car, dreaming of being like her idol, Switzerland’s Sarah Hoefflin. In Beijing she edged her into sixth.
“She’s super cool, she’s my idol and an amazing person, to beat someone like Sarah is just incredible,” she added.
Muir’s attention will now switch to next week’s slopestyle in Zhangjiakou, nearly 120 miles north of Beijing – and then back to her Higher studies at Bucksburn Academy in Aberdeen.
“It gives me confidence for the slopestyle, I can’t wait to get there and try out the course,” she said.
“I’ve got a bit of studying to catch up for sure, I’m focussed on my next event and then it’s back to school.”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.