15-year-old Olympic skiing favorite to miss PyeongChang

Kelly Sildaru
Red Bull
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The gold-medal favorite in women’s ski slopestyle will reportedly go to the PyeongChang Olympics purely as a spectator.

Estonian Kelly Sildaru, 15, said in a statement Tuesday that she is out through the Winter Games after suffering a left knee injury in a training fall earlier this month, according to Estonian media.

The knee injury requires surgery that will keep Sildaru out six to nine months, according to her doctor’s posted by Estonian media. She plans to attend the Winter Olympics as a fan.

Sildaru, who was born during the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, won the last two Winter X Games ski slopestyle titles. Her first, at age 13 in 2016, made her the youngest Winter X Games champion in any event.

The PyeongChang ski slopestyle event takes place on her 16th birthday.

Sildaru was also a medal contender in ski halfpipe after winning the world junior title last season and placing second in a World Cup event in New Zealand on Sept. 1. She outscored the three Sochi Olympic pipe medalists, including gold medalist Maddie Bowman, in the World Cup.

By age 12, Sildaru was already in an Estonian yogurt commercial with one of the nation’s pop stars. A video of her skiing from when she was 8 and 9 years old has more than 200,000 YouTube views.

All seven of Estonia’s Winter Olympic medals have come in cross-country skiing.

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VIDEO: Slopestyle skier shows off acrobatic moves in training