Murray Buchan Ski Coach

Playing our part

How skier Murray Buchan made the transition from competitor to coach

Double Olympian Murray Buchan lived the half-pipe dream – and now he’s coaching skiing stars of the future.

The 27-year-old, a freestyle skier who competed in the half-pipe, represented Team GB in the Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014 and PyeongChang in 2018.

As a winter sports athlete, he was supported by the sportscotland institute of sport and this backing has continued as he has moved from competitor to coach.

Murray, who is now national performance coach (free ski) at Snowsport Scotland (SS), admitted it was inevitable that he would remain in the sport he loves.

Natural step

He said: "There was no real moment when I said, ‘I’m going to go and pursue coaching’. Throughout my whole career, I’d picked up little bits and pieces of coaching. I always kept my foot in the door with it because I enjoyed it."

Murray, from Edinburgh, often helped at practice sessions at Bearsden Ski and Snowboard Centre in East Dunbartonshire when he was competing, and becoming a coach seemed a natural step to take.

Murray Buchan competed at two winter Olympics


He explained: "I used to travel through [to Bearsden] once a week to ski. One of the guys who ran the freestyle nights also worked at Snowsport Scotland, so if there were ever any camps he would ask me to come along and help.

"It was a case of getting a bit of experience and seeing what happened further down the line."

Murray’s role is jointly funded by sportscotland and GB Snowsports and he works with both the GB Park & Pipe athletes and the SS performance squad at home and abroad. The pathway promotes snowboarding and freeskiing alongside cross-training disciplines such as gymnastics, skateboarding and strength-and-conditioning work.

Vital support

Murray was supported and encouraged in his progression by club coach Neil McGrain. He added: "He was the kick-starter; he got me going, and then I got my qualifications. He’s someone who I’d still definitely go to now for a bit of advice."

Murray admitted that sportscotland’s Performance Lifestyle team was a vital support resource during his transition to coaching. He said: "When I first started, I was working with Susie Elms. She helped me get organised and try to find other avenues to get more income to help with training costs.

"Towards the end of my career I started working with Chris Volley, another Performance Lifestyle expert, and he was great. He challenged me on a lot and encouraged me to pursue other avenues such as coaching, courses and commentary work.

"I suppose you start pulling the thread, and the more you get involved, the more help and support you find is available.

"The institute’s impact on my career was absolutely massive. I can’t stress how valuable it was.

"The support I received was incredible and I can’t thank sportscotland enough because it made such a difference through things like injury prevention, rehab and general lifestyle, fitness and wellbeing. Everyone was fantastic."

Positive change

And the best bit about his new role as a coach? He replied: "Without a doubt, the best part is actually coaching the kids. When you’re on the hill or on the dry slope or in the snowdome or wherever, actually coaching is by far the best.

"Seeing them take something on board that you’ve shown them, and then implementing it and making a positive change, that’s the biggest thing. I’m constantly trying to become a better coach."

Images courtesy of Team GB

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