Kelly Sildaru closes in on elusive Crystal Globe at Freeski World Cup finale

The Estonian freestyle skiing star, who won bronze at Beijing 2022, just needs to finish above Sarah Hoefflin in the top three to claim the slopestyle Crystal Globe.

By Andrew Binner
Picture by 1 Getty Images

The 2021/22 FIS Freeski World Cup finale could see Kelly Sildaru land one of the few trophies that eludes her: the slopestyle Crystal Globe.

The Estonian is the strong favourite to land the title on Sunday (26 March): she's ranked No. 1 with 200 points and qualified in top spot after the first day of competition at the last World Cup event in Silvaplana (Switzerland) .

Sarah Hoefflin is second in the general rankings on 160 points, meaning Sildaru only needs to beat her Swiss rival (ninth in the qualifiers) and finish in third place or higher to clinch the globe.

However, the Lausanne 2020 Youth Olympic champion will need to be at the top of her game to finish on the podium with the likes of Canada’s Megan Oldham, Alia Delia Eichinger of Germany and Beijing 2022 Big Air silver medallist Tess Ledeux also competing.

The Crystal Globe would cap a spectacular season for Sildaru, whose bronze at Beijing 2022 in February was her nation’s first-ever Olympic medal in freestyle skiing.

MORE: Kelly Sildaru: Top five things you need to know about the queen of freestyle skiing

That Sildaru boasts such a healthy lead going into the World Cup final will come as a surprise to some.

The 20-year-old has only entered two of the four slopestyle competitions so far in 2021/22 - Stubai (Austria) and Mammoth Mountain (USA) - but recorded wins in both.

Those performances ensured that she went to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics in top condition.

"Just like pretty much me holding the flag and the whole team is behind me and walking into the stadium, it just feels so amazing,” the Tallinn native told Olympics.com after carrying the Estonian flag at the Opening Ceremony

"I think it's really hard to describe the feeling: Nervous? I was a little bit, actually, yeah, because I didn't know what to expect. But I think it was really cool and fun experience."

Kelly Sildaru of Team Estonia performs a trick during the Women's Freestyle Skiing Freeski Slopestyle Qualification on Day 10 of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at Genting Snow Park on February 14, 2022 in Zhangjiakou, China
Picture by 2022 Getty Images

The experience then became even cooler, when she won bronze just days after celebrating her 20th birthday in the Zhangjiakou mountain range.

"I think I'm kind of still in shock," she told Olympics.com on the final day of action in Beijing.

"And I think I haven't really realised it yet. It's probably going to happen when I'm going back home and see all my family and everyone, everybody like being so happy for me. Then I'll then I'll probably realise that I actually won an Olympic medal."

Sildaru was given a hero’s welcome when she arrived back in Estonia, with the nation’s Prime Minister even making an appearance.

But perhaps her biggest fan waiting at home was her husky, who is a regular feature on her Instagram page.

"I miss her so much," Sildaru told Olympics.com in after winning bronze at Beijing 2022.

"When I'm like travelling in Europe, then we're sometimes travelling by car so I could bring her with me. Yeah, I miss her, but I can go home soon and snuggle her."

Clearly, the snuggles worked.

The Women's freeski World Cup final in Silvaplana will start on Sunday at 12:00 CET.

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