As sports go, few are as brutal as cross country skiing.
Collapsing over the line, athletes gasping for air while lying sprawled on the frozen tracks is a common occurrence – even vomiting isn’t a rare sight at a big race.
But for identical twins Oliver and Fergus Newman, this is the attraction of a sport growing in prominence in Britain.
The 17-year-old twins are currently part of Team GB for the Erzurum 2017 European Youth Olympic Festival having pushed themselves to the limit in three races across the past four days.
“There’s an incredible sense of achievement in the sport,” says Fergus, who’s the older twin by six minutes.
“You are pushing yourself as hard as you can and when you finish and collapse on the line you know you couldn’t have given any more.
“Even if you haven’t had a good race you know you’ve given everything, which is always an encouraging thought.”
The twins are part of a Newman family dynasty in the sport with dad Richard the chairman of the British Nordic Ski Team and older brothers William and Ruaridh both having competed for Team GB at previous Youth Olympic Festivals.
But having first being thrown onto a pair of skis aged just two, the Huntly based boys have been pushing each other for 15 years and, despite acknowledging a hearty competitive edge, they know they’ve developed further as individuals as a result.
“We’re better athletes because we have each other,” says Oliver. “We push each other on and if you see your brother out training you think ‘oh, I have to go and do that now’.
“It’s good fun racing against each other but it’s really competitive too. It actually makes it more exciting.”
Fergus adds: “We’re pretty similar standard-wise so one of us is winning one day and then the other is winning the next. We spend all day every day together and that extends across the team here. There’s a really close bond in the sport”.
While Oliver may have taken the upper hand with 2-1 win over his brother in races this week in Erzurum, there’s no better time for both to be are rising through the ranks in Britain.
Andrew Musgrave and Andrew Young, the latter also from Huntly, are competing with the world’s best on the World Cup circuit having relocated to the sport’s powerhouse Norway.
And the close ties the sport keeps with its athletes is allowing the next generation to learn from the successful seniors, with a potential move to Scandinavia also on the cards for the two youngest Newmans.
“The sport is quite small so we get good interaction with the senior guys on the programme,” says Oliver.
“We had two weeks training with the likes of Andrew Young and Andrew Musgrave and that was amazing to watch and learn how they train.
“If we wanted to become like them and develop to become full-time cross country skiers then moving to Norway is a really good option.
"That’s how they've developed as they were skiing and racing with the best athletes every day. It’s something we would look at in a couple of years but it’s a definite option.”