Edinburgh-born Murray Buchan cannot wait to compete at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
Twenty five athletes will compete for Team GB across alpine, cross country, freestyle skiing and snowboard events with the previous record of 22 having been selected for Cortina 1956.
Freestyle skiing is the largest of the ski and snowboard disciplines with 11 athletes selected and Murray is one of them. He is one of three half-pipe skiers in that group and is feeling good ahead of the showpiece event.
It will be his second games after Sochi in 2014 and, having completed his final preparations for the Games in Switzerland before flying to South Korea on Wednesday, he is buzzing.
“I think leading up to Sochi it was all a bit new to me and qualification was quite tight, but this time I am a bit older and ever since qualification started a while back I have known what the process entails and that has helped me to plan and make sure firstly that I made the team and secondly that I am in the best shape I can be,” he explained on a rare day back at home recently.
“Since December 2016 we have been involved in World Cup events where we could gain points to help us towards qualification and thankfully I did well enough and then Team GB gave me the nod.
“If you look at 2017 for example I was probably away training and at events 200 days out of the year and we had camps in places like Austria, New Zealand and Canada so you certainly get plenty of stamps on your passport and we are very lucky.
“When I am not away I am back in Scotland working hard in the gym and such like and also working to try and earn some money so that I can keep my skiing going.
“I work in the Freeze Pro Shop in Edinburgh during that time and it is great because I am around people who like the same sports as me and they have really supported me over the years, indeed they have probably supported me for 15 years.
“It can be strange going from a big competition to working in a shop, but I soon get used to it and it can be really enjoyable.”
As for South Korea and the big meet, well Murray, who is now 26, believes they will really put on a show.
“We were there for the Test event in February 2017 and I was very impressed with the half-pipe run and the general facilities,” he enthused.
“The atmosphere is set to be really good and in an event like mine that really helps you to hit the heights.
“In my event last time in Sochi I finished 17th and this time around I’d really like to make the final, top 10.
“I think that is a high goal, but it is achievable. In a recent high level competition I had a few knocks along the way, but I managed to land a really complex run and that gave me a boost heading into the Olympics.”
Given the heights he has reached, you may be surprised to find out that Murray hated his first ever ski experience and was a handy rugby player in his day.
The former Firrhill High School pupil explained: “My dad was part of the ski mountain rescue team at Glenshee when he was younger and he wanted skiing to be something the family did together, but at first I absolutely hated it!
“I was crying my eyes out at Glenshee because it was cold, it was windy and I didn’t know what I was doing!
“Then I got lessons at Hillend and slowly, but surely I loved it. I was then there morning and night and at weekends when I didn’t have rugby on, it was like my second home.
“In terms of rugby, I played at Boroughmuir minis right through to the first XV and I made my first XV debut against Stirling County when I was about 18 at scrum-half and went on to play a couple more games.
“Before that I also remember being the Boroughmuir mascot at a Scottish Cup final and Mike Blair [who went on to win Scotland caps, skipper his country and tour with the British & Irish Lions] was involved, I must have been about eight.
“At some stage I had to decide to go on and take rugby or skiing seriously and I thought the latter gave me the best chance to get to the top and live my dream.
“I always found the half-pipe appealing because you can get lots of jump and the event kind of grabbed me – and has not let go yet!”
The PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games take place between February 9 and February 25 – Murray’s competition starts on February 20
Thanks to Tommy Pyatt for the photos
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