After a disappointing 17th-place finish in big air, triple-threat Kelly Sildaru of Estonia came out swinging Monday in the qualifying round of slopestyle with a mega second run, advancing to the final as the top skier.
The reigning Youth Olympic gold medalist and four-time X Games winner went huge in the bottom jump section of Run 2 with a rightside 900 and switch leftside and rightside 1080s, upping the right 540 and switch left 720 and switch right 900 sequence from her first run.
“It’s been so nice [to compete]. It’s super great to be here,” Sildaru said. “I missed the last Olympics due to injury, so it was super important for me. It was my goal to get to the Olympics, and now I’m here.”
Other favorites had issues while making it through: big air gold medalist Eileen Gu of China, a native of San Francisco, took third but had uncharacteristic trouble off a rail on her first run; France’s Tess Ledeux, the big air silver medalist, bounced a landing on Run 1; and Swiss Mathilde Gremaud squeezed in at 12th.
American Maggie Voisin, who also missed last week’s big air final, moved on in fourth, the same position she finished in at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics. The 2018 X Games Aspen champion hit a blindside 630 off the third-section flat rail and landed a right 540, a big switch 900 and a left 720 on the jumps to produce a Run 1 score of 72.78.
“Oh, my goodness, [a possible medal] would just solidify my entire career,” Voisin said. “I really feel like I’ve done it all, I’ve had such an amazing career at 23 years old but the Olympic medal is one thing that I’m missing.”
Voisin’s teammate Marin Hamill also made the final in seventh but crashed hard on her second run. Darian Stevens, 11th in big air, failed to advance. Caroline Claire didn’t start, and it wasn’t immediately clear why; the Minnesota-born Vermonter promoted the event’s round on Instagram the day prior.
Johanne Killi of Norway, a two-time X Games Aspen silver medalist, improved an already solid initial on Run 2 by hitting two switch 720s to close out the jumps, recording a score of 86.00. Meanwhile, defending gold medalist Sarah Hoefflin of Switzerland didn’t move on to the final.
Officials postponed competition Sunday due to heavy snowfall blanketing the course. The leftover snow appeared to affect some skiers’ performances Monday.
The event’s final is Tuesday, or 8:30 p.m. Monday ET.
SEE MORE: Women’s Freeski Slopestyle Qualifying