The latest in a new crop of talent sprung from Scotland's flourishing dry-slope scene, 18-year-old Kirsty Muir has been steadily climbing the ranks of women's competitive freeskiing. After making the finals in both Big Air and Slopestyle at the Beijing Olympics last year, she claimed her first X Games medals this January, with a third-place finish in each discipline. Kirsty's a bright young star with an even brighter future—in other words, the perfect Downdays "On The Radar" interview candidate.
Kirsty living the high life at Prime Park in Austria. Photo: Syo van Vliet / Red Bull Content Pool
Hot lapping with pal Mia Brookes at The Nines. Photo: Theo Acworth
How did you first get into skiing?
My dad grew up skiing and my mum learned in her twenties, so they wanted me, my brother and my sister to all ski so that we could ski as a family in the Scottish mountains. I learned on the mountains and the dry slope, a bit of both. I started freestyle on the dry slope because I went to a Saturday kid’s club, and there were ten minutes at the end of the session where we could go onto the freestyle slope. They saw how much I enjoyed it, and told me to go to the freestyle night.
What tricks did you try that night?
Probably 180s and 360s. The main one I remember was trying my first front flip on my tenth birthday.
Did you land it?
I don’t remember if I landed it first try, but I definitely landed it on my birthday that year!
your tenth birthday wasn't so long ago—You only finished school last May. How did the exams go?
Good! I got all As. I was pretty stoked! I wanted to get good results so that in the future—during skiing or after—I have those results to help me along.
Kirsty made her X Games debut in 2022 as an alternate, getting a spot in the slopestyle contest when Giulia Tanno dropped out. A year later, she was on the podium. Photo: Rich Storry / ESPN Images
Does that mean that skiing is your career now?
I decided that after school I would take a gap year, focus on skiing and see how it goes. I’ll at least do another gap year, just ski and see how it goes. I didn’t know what course I would want to do at university. I’d prefer to figure that out while I’m skiing, if there’s something on the side that I’d like to do.
I don’t want to be a bad influence, but I think you should stick with skiing!
Yeah, I’d only go to university if it was something that I was really interested in.
In the past few years, You’ve often been the youngest girl at contests. do you think getting all that experience at a young age will pay off?
I definitely think so, because at every competition you learn something. Doing it all at a young age will definitely help me along. It just gives me that experience to push myself.
Have you ever not been the youngest at a major comp?
I’m getting there now, because I’m 18 and there are younger kids coming up. But in the past I was often the youngest.
How old were you at your first international contest?
I think I was 14 at my first Europa Cup. Before that, I had done British contests in the UK and the British Championships in Laax.
A strong double-cork game and a penchant for clean grabs makes Kirsty a full-fledged competition threat. Photo: Lorenz Richard / Red Bull Content Pool
Who inspired you in those younger days?
I definitely remember being inspired by both Katie Summerhayes and Woodsy (James Woods) from the British team. Sarah Hoefflin was someone I always looked up to, both before and after her performance in Pyeongchang. I met her way back at the British Championships in Manchester. I just remember how lovely she was—an amazing person and an amazing skier who I still look up to.
What are your plans in skiing? Any filming?
Yeah, I’d really love to do some filming. I’m really busy with competitions at the moment, but I definitely want to try to find some time to film. Not sure of the projects yet, but we’ll come up with some ideas and do them.
You mention being busy with contests. Are you full-on from November with contests and training?
At the start of the season, plans aren’t set, and nothing is booked or anything. I’ve just had quite a few opportunities come up, so the next few months are pretty packed.
Big Air may be Kirsty´s strong suit, but she´s no slouch on the slopestyle course either. Photo: Lorenz Richards / Red Bull Content Pool
Between contests do you have to keep things ticking over?
Yeah, there’s obviously the gym and stuff. I think after a busy period it’s good to go home and take a few days' rest as well. I always love going home and seeing my dogs and my family. We’ve got three black Labradors: Holly, Myrrh and Mali. They’re all named after plants. Whilst I’m back home I get to the gym and between comps, I try to get some training on the snow in too.
how much time do you get to spend at home in the year?
Last summer I got to spend a lot of time at home, but this winter it’s barely any. I had a few weeks off between Christmas and New Year, which was longer than I expected.
What do you do when you're not skiing?
When I’m not skiing I’m usually at home playing with my dogs! I really enjoy crotcheting and just spending time in nature. I love seeing my friends when I’m home, because I always miss them. When I’m home I have to see as many people as I can. I’ve got some amazing friends on the ski and snowboard circuit, too. I get to see them when I’m away, so that’s nice too.
Flying high at The Nines. Photo: Klaus Polzer