Media release: Elite freestyle skier, Kirsty Muir (17), wins Youth Mountain Award

Kirsty Muir - Credit Dave MacLeod

ORGANISERS of the Fort William Mountain Festival are delighted to announce that Kirsty Muir, a 17 year-old Scottish elite freestyle skier (Big Air, Slopestyle and Halfpipe) from Aberdeen, who is currently in Beijing competing in the Winter Olympic Games, is the eighth recipient of The Scottish Youth Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture, sponsored by West Highland College UHI.

The festival’s youth ambassador award, established in 2015, celebrates adventurous young people, the landscapes they choose to explore and the outdoor pursuits in which they excel.

The young winner needs to have shown resilience and determination to succeed within their chosen area of expertise, shown results through their own efforts and ideas, given back to their community, whilst being thought of as an example of excellence by others.

Described as a “one in a generation athlete”, by former Olympic snowboarder, Lesley McKenna – and being touted as a strong GB medal contender at the Winter Olympic Winter Games Beijing – Kirsty Muir epitomises these winning principles, perfectly.

Her extraordinary rise to the top of the international freestyle skiing circuit, from hitting the dry slopes of Aberdeen Snowsports Centre at ‘nearly four’ years-old, to starting to hone her freestyle craft at seven, to multiple youth competition podiums and a memorable maiden slopestyle World Cup medal in Aspen, Colorado, at 16, can all be attributed to her grit, passion, training, focus, dogged determination for success, and humility.

Kirsty Muir said: “I am honoured to be this year’s recipient of the Scottish Youth Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture. I hope I can inspire people to get out into their local areas and give sports a go.”

Lydia Rohmer, principal and chief executive, West Highland College UHI, said: “West Highland College UHI continue to be privileged to sponsor The Scottish Youth Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture.

“We are delighted that this year’s recipient is so very clearly a young person passionate about achieving her dreams. Kirsty is committed and driven to overcome any challenges that come her way to reach the top in her sport. These qualities of resilience and determination are what we endeavour to instil in all our students as well as a keen desire to share their knowledge and expertise by teaching others and we clearly see these qualities in Kirsty too. We wish to send our congratulations to Kirsty and wish her every success in her future career.”

Having achieved a slew of under-age titles at British Indoor Championships Ski & Snowboard and The BRITS Championships, Kirsty made the senior ranks stand up and take notice at the 2018 BRITS. The 13 year-old won all three Freeski titles – Big Air, Slopestyle and Halfpipe – against competitors many years her senior.

She went on to be awarded the ‘Spirit of Sarah’ Scholarship by Momentum Camps and the Sarah Burke Foundation, becoming the first athlete outside of North America to win the award, which included attendance at their summer freestyle camp in Whistler.

In 2019, she made the podium on the international circuit taking first place in her first Europa Cup Slopestyle competition, continuing a successful season with a second and a third place at the Junior World Championships in Sweden.

Then came the ‘biggest breakthrough’ in Muir’s career, when she won a silver medal in the Freeski Big Air competition at the 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Having also finished fourth in the slopestyle competition, Kirsty was chosen as Team GB’s flagbearer for the Closing Ceremony.

In March 2021, in her first trip to America, Muir claimed her first World Cup medal with a silver in the ski slope-style competition in Aspen. At 16, she was the youngest competitor in the final in what was only her fourth World Cup start.

She followed this up with a hugely impressive sixth place in the FIS Freestyle Ski and Snowboarding World Championships, also staged in Aspen. Kirsty was the only British female to qualify for the eight-woman slopestyle final. She finished off the 20/21 season in second place in the World Cup Freeski Slopestyle standings, also being nominated for the European Olympic Committee’s 2021 Winter Piotr Nurowski ‘Best European Young Winter Athlete’ prize!!

Although the 2021/22 World Cup season is in the early stages, Muir has carried over her good form by finishing fourth in the first Slopestyle event in Stubai, Austria, in November, and fifth at Mammoth Mountain in January.


Media contacts:

Paddy Cuthbert | Littlehouse Media | E:

M: +44 (0)7913 951717

Image of Kirsty Muir attached. Please credit Dave MacLeod.

Further hi-res images can be downloaded from the link – Please credit photographers as indicated.

Notes for editors:

The Fort William Mountain Festival 2022 on digital:

Festival programme –

Festival whowreel –

Festival website –

Scottish Mountain Culture Awards –

Facebook –

Instagram –

Vimeo –

Hashtag – #fwmf2022

West Highland College UHI –

School of Adventure Studies –

The prestigious Scottish Awards for Excellence in Mountain Culture recognise the achievements and accomplishments of inspiring individuals and their outstanding contributions to Scotland’s outdoor culture, encompassing sport, theatre, art, photography, film and literature.

The award was set up in 2008 by the Highland Mountain Culture Association Ltd, organisers of the Fort William Mountain Festival. The 2022 Award is sponsored by JAHAMA Highland Estates. The Youth Award, established in 2015, is sponsored by West Highland College UHI (School of Adventure Studies).

Previous recipients of The Scottish Youth Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture are:

2021 – Mikayla Parton

2020 – Tim Miller

2019 – Rob Cochrane

2018 – Shauna Coxsey

2017 – Robert Mackenzie

2016 – Natalie Berry

2015 – Zeki Basan

Recipients of The Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture are:

2022 – Karen Darke

2021 – Dave Morris

2020 – Colin Prior

2019 – Noel Williams

2018 – Cameron McNeish

2017 – Dr Hamish Brown MBE

2016 – Mick Tighe

2015 – Robin Campbell

2014 – Andy Nisbet

2013 – Myrtle Simpson

2012 – Dr Adam Watson

2011 – Ian Sykes

2010 – Jimmy Marshall

2009 – Richard Else

2008 – Dr Hamish MacInnes

The Fort William Mountain Festival 2022 runs from Wednesday 16 to Sunday 20 February 2022 at venues in and around the bustling Highland town of Fort William, at the heart of the ‘Outdoor Capital of the UK’.

The main presentations and film nights take place in the Nevis Centre, The Highland Cinema, the Highland Bookshop and Three Wise Monkeys indoor climbing centre. The festival launch night will take place at the Nevis Centre. Venues for fringe events can be found on the website.

The Fort William Mountain Festival 2022 is sponsored by the ‘Outdoor Capital of the UK’, Ellis Brigham, Jahama Highland Estates, the John Muir Trust, Highland Council and University Highland & Islands West Highland College, with many and varied local friends and supporters.

Festival tickets can sell out in advance particularly for the popular nights.

The festival attracts approaching 1,500 people over the five days and takes place each February in and around the town of Fort William.

The Highland Mountain Culture Association Limited

Festival organisers, The Highland Mountain Culture Association Limited, is a not-for-profit organisation, whose aim is to promote the understanding and appreciation of the world’s mountain places and people, by creating opportunities for people of all ages to share their mountain experiences, ideas and visions. To showcase these ideals, it stages annually a programme of events within the Lochaber area, called The Fort William Mountain Festival. The festival is organised by a dynamic organising committee, all volunteers, made up of a team of hard working local outdoor enthusiasts.

The Outdoor Capital of the UK

The ‘Outdoor Capital of the UK’ is Lochaber Chamber of Commerce’s tourism brand, promoting adventure for all!  The Chamber publicises, sponsors and promotes Fort William and Lochaber as one of the best places in the UK for everyone to experience the outdoors; with a view to developing local jobs and wealth and encouraging sustainable economic growth.

This is done through a range of collaborative marketing initiatives and activities.  The organisation currently has a wide range of member businesses ranging from accommodation, food and drink and activity providers to non-tourism focused businesses who support the aims of the Lochaber Chamber of Commerce and acknowledge that tourism is crucial to the local economy.

Many of these businesses are SMEs and by pulling resources and working as a team the Lochaber Chamber of Commerce achieves the positive results that individually the members couldn’t otherwise reach. The Chamber also produces the ‘Outdoor Capital of the UK’ website, the go-to site for local events, outdoor activities and visitor accommodation in the area. /

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