For those in the know, Aberdeen’s Kirsty Muir has been British skiing’s next big thing for a while – but now the secret is truly out.
Freestyle skier Muir, 17, qualified seventh for Tuesday’s first-ever women’s Olympic Big Air final, but seemed to be holding something in reserve.
Her first run – a dizzying two flips with one-and-a-half degrees rotation off a 50m ramp going 60mph – banked the second-highest score of any competitor and some nods of recognition from experienced hands.
That meant she could ease off with her next two qualifying attempts with a place in top 12 all but secure – and in the final it’ll be gloves, or more accurately mittens, off.
“That’s my best trick, the DUB 12, and I wanted to land it on my first run,” she said.
"VERY, VERY CLEAN!" 😎
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) February 7, 2022
“I had a crash in practice with it, so I’m really stoked to have done it clean.
“I’m so happy and just really excited to be in the finals. It’s a dream come true, I just can’t believe it. My first Olympics, my first Olympic final, that’s everything I wanted.”
Shadowed by five industrial cooling towers in the grounds of a former steel mill, Big Air Shougang is the world’s first permanent venue for these flying tricksters, an urban setting for the X-Games generation.
Teenager performing with freedom
And the youngest member of Team GB certainly gave the impression of just enjoying her Games debut, free from the weight of expectation and just embracing the experience.
Day 4 of the Games saw Kirsty Muir deliver a breathtaking Big Air performance, while Katie @Suummerhayes and @JamesWoodsy missed out on Finals qualification, and @AlexSkiTilley took on the Giant Slalom. 🇬🇧
— GB Snowsport (@GBSnowsport) February 7, 2022
Four years ago, she was already considered the best in Britain, but watched the Olympics on her phone in the back of her parents car as they drove through Aberdeenshire.
She was gripped as Switzerland’s Sarah Hoefflin and Mathilde Gremaud slugged it out for slopestyle gold, now she’ll take them on in the Big Air final – after her spinning, twisting first run scored 89.25, more than any attempt by her heroes.
“Everyone goes to a final with hopes of doing their best, I’m just seeing how it goes,” added Muir.
“I can clean up the grabs and there’s a few little things I could improve on, I just want to go ski my best in the final.”
Team-mate Katie Summerhayes just missed out on progressing, while former snowboarding world champion James Woods failed to land on two runs, meaning both will reset their sights on next week’s slopestyle competition.
All set to go up against idol Hoefflin
But Muir will be going head-to-head with idol Hoefflin, who spent 10 years living in the UK and qualified for the final with her final jump, albeit two places behind the Brit.
“I’ve always looked up to her and it’s great to be in the final with her, it’s a nice story,” added Muir.
“I met her when I was 10 at the British Championships and have loved watching her journey.
“She’s an Olympic champion, but she’s such a lovely person and she’s done some amazing things for progressing women’s sport.
“I don’t think I feel any pressure from anyone, I’m just doing what I can. In the end, I just have to try my best and try to zone everything out.
“In the end, I’m the only person that can make me proud.”
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