Estonia

Kelly Sildaru
Red Bull

15-year-old Olympic skiing favorite to miss PyeongChang

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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

Olympic freestyle skiing favorite injured in fall, out indefinitely

Kelly Sildaru
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Estonian Kelly Sildaru, the 15-year-old Olympic ski slopestyle favorite, is out indefinitely after suffering a knee injury in a training fall in the past week in New Zealand, according to her social media.

“Until I get home and see my team of doctors and specialist we don’t know how long I will be off skis or what the injury really is,” was posted on Sildaru’s accounts. “I am determined to put the work in to be back as soon as possible, but also will want to be 100% to ensure a long career.”

The post said Sildaru will provide more details once she learns more about the injury in the next two weeks. Sildaru’s father and coach said the fall was not hard but a result of a her skis being crossed on an unlucky landing, according to Estonian media.

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 is 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.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

VIDEO: Slopestyle skier shows off acrobatic moves in training

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Hello Friends, Fans and Sponsors. I wanted to be the first to tell you about a recent training crash I had. While in New Zealand this past week, I fell and twisted my knee while training for the upcoming season. At this time I am taking all pre cautions and will be flying home to be evaluated and determine what is next in recovery. Fortunately I was able to get two great results at my first World Cup's of the season to help secure my place in the Olympics. However, until I get home and see my team of doctors and specialist we don't know how long I will be off skis or what the injury really is, but I am determined to put the work in to be back as soon as possible, but also will want to be 100% to ensure a long career. I truly thank you for all the support and I promise once we have more info and knowledge of my situation over the next couple of weeks we will be back to provide updates. All my best Kelly

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Estonia Olympic marathon triplets: ‘It would be great to finish together’

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TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — Fans at the Rio Olympics will be seeing not just double, but triple in the women’s marathon when identical triplets race together for the first time.

Calling themselves the “Trio to Rio” and sporting identical uniforms and blonde ponytails, Estonians Leila, Lily and Liina Luik are used to spectators and officials mixing them up when they’re competing.

“They don’t know who is who,” Lily said. “Commentators see one of us is coming, and the other is a little bit later, and then comes the third one. It’s like: ‘So fast, you are already here.'”

The triplets joked among themselves and finished sentences during an interview with The Associated Press at a track in Estonia’s capital. Asked how they decided to turn pro and try for the Olympics, Liina and Lily answered in unison “together.”

Twins are not uncommon in the history of the Olympics, which has many tales of sporting families. But triplets are a first, according to Olympic historian Bill Mallon, who keeps a database of athletes.

The 30-year-old sisters are from the medieval city of Tartu, and they only turned pro at the relatively late age of 24. They don’t come from an athletic family.

Keen to play outside from a young age, they took up distance running because “we feel the nature vibe,” Liina said.

Lily said jokingly that the marathon is an “easier” way to travel than hiking.

Whether training or racing, the triplets have a relentless competitive drive and family solidarity. They want to break each other’s personal best (currently held by Leila) but also race tactically, taking turns at the tiring task of leading the pack and facing greater wind resistance.

“When its hard conditions and someone is little bit behind or weaker, we all push each other — ‘Go, go on, come on, don’t stop,'” said Leila, the oldest. “Together we are like a dream team.”

“If one of us has a bad competition or something, everyone feels that,” Lily said. “Injuries (are) also very bad for us because if one of us couldn’t compete somewhere it’s … not a complete team.”

The sisters are favored to take Estonia’s three qualifying spots for the marathon, but they’re not likely to win a medal since Leila’s best time of 2 hours 37 minutes 11 seconds is almost 15 minutes slower than the Olympic record. There’s a strong tradition of Nordic distance running, especially in Estonia’s neighbor Finland, but African countries are the undisputed leaders of the modern marathon.

Still, spirits are high for the “Trio to Rio.”

“The nervousness hasn’t come to us,” Lily said. “Definitely, it would be great to finish all together. It would be difficult, but we try it.”

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