Kelly Sildaru has become the first Estonian freestyle skier to win a Winter Olympic medal, after winning a bronze in women’s freeski slopestyle at Beijing 2022.
“I can’t explain how happy I am right now. It’s been such a great experience,” she told Olympics.com, the official website of the games, after her third-place finish in the women’s slopestyle on 15 February. “Walking away with a bronze, it’s just amazing.”
She added that she “missed her dog so much” and the dog “may also get the privilege of wearing the bronze medal”. “When I won the X Games Medal, I tried it on her. Maybe I should do the same thing with the Olympic medal,” she said.
Mathilde Gremaud from Switzerland claimed the gold in the women’s freeski slopestyle and Eileen Gu from China won the silver.
Sildaru made her Olympic debut at Beijing, having previously won six gold and two silver medals and a bronze in women’s ski slopestyle at the X Games Aspen as well as six gold medals and a silver at Freestyle Junior World Ski Championships over the past six years.
Starting from the age of two
She started skiing when she was two and got into freestyle-skiing at the age of five. By the time Sildaru was 11, she had been noticed by the international sports press – Euronews called her “the future star of freestyle skiing” – and videos of her breathtakingly brave style started circling on YouTube.
But it wasn’t merely the style – there was also persistence and hard work that has paid off. In 2016, Sildaru made free-skiing history, becoming the youngest athlete ever to win a gold medal at the Winter X Games, world’s leading extreme sports competition that take place annually in Aspen, Colorado, the United States. In 2017, she defended her title from 2016 and at 14, became the youngest to win two gold medals in the X Games.