Kelly Sildaru tops Beijing slopestyle qualifiers

Kelly Sildaru.
Kelly Sildaru. Source: Karli Saul/EOK

Estonian freestyle skier Kelly Sildaru won at her trump-card discipline, freeski slopestyle, topping qualification at the Beijing Olympics.

Sildaru, who earned 80.96 points from the judges in the opening run and was second after the Norwegian Johanne Kill, picked up 86.15 points for the second descent for pulling off a 900-degree tail grab, a 1080-degree left mute and a 1080-degree right tail grab.

On Sunday, Sildaru was the only woman who performed more than a thousand degrees, and won the qualification in the second round after overtaking Kill, who also improved her result by 0.15 points.

"The most important thing for me today was to land some kind of a run. I made the first run on such a firm basis. In the second round we had no plans to add anything to the second and third jumps, it was semi-accidental and came as a surprise to me as well," she said. "I somehow feel so good about myself that I was able to do my own rides and also that on the last run I did things I wasn't expecting. It felt good," Sildaru said.

The first descent of Chinese freestyle star Eileen Gu from the host country failed, but made a solid performance in the second round and took third place with 79.38 points. However, PyeongChang's Olympic winner Sarah Höfflin from Switzerland was out of the final, limiting herself to just 48.96 points in the best attempt.

Sildaru was scheduled to make its second start at the Beijing Olympics on Sunday morning, qualifying for the park, but due to bad weather, the qualification was postponed.

According to the new schedule, the qualification will be held on Monday morning at 4 a.m. Estonian time and the final competition will start on Tuesday at 3.30 p.m. Estonian time.

"We are a bit disappointed that we couldn't compete today. Of course, everyone would have had a hard time," Mihkel Ustav, Sildaru's coach said. "Most of all, we're really disappointed that if we got to the finals, the final day would be a running training session at the same time as the final, which would eat out one of the three training sessions. "That 's my biggest concern."

The slopestyle is Sildaru's signature discipline. Sildaru also celebrates her 20th birthday on Thursday; over the years, she has won four gold medals at the X Games and been crowned the three-time junior world champion. Last year, she won a gold medal at the Lausanne Youth Olympics.

27 athletes will compete in Monday's qualifying; Sildaru is fourth up after Kill, Höfflin and Gu.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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