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Sildaru and Harlaut on top in Stubai
Kelly Sildaru in action during the slopestyle finals in Stubai (AUT).

The FIS Freeski World Cup was back in business this week at the world-famous Stubai Zoo snowpark, as the first slopestyle competition of the season went down with a bang and saw Estonian freeski star Kelly Sildaru as well as the Swedish style maestro Henrik Harlaut taking home big victories in what was one of the best competitions we’ve witnessed in a long time.

Initially scheduled for Saturday, the finals in Stubai had been moved to Friday following the unfavourable weather forecast. And it looks like the jury had made just the right decision as mild temperatures and perfect conditions played along to provide a truly top-tier show.

Top 8 ladies as well as top 18 men selected through the qualification round on Thursday, checked-in early on top of the course just to throw down one banger trick after another while battling for the first slopestyle points in 2018/2019.

In the ladies competition, it was the top qualifier Kelly Sildaru (EST), who managed to maintain her first position despite all efforts from the Swiss duo of Sarah Hoefflin and Mathilde Gremaud for the best run of the day. 

And while the 16-year-old Sildaru was put under pressure while failing to land her first run, she threw in all she had left in a tank in her second and the final run of the day, linking back-to-back switch 1080s and probably the most technical rail combo we’ve ever seen from the female athlete. 

With such a clutch performance and the final score of 88.46 points Sildaru grabbed her career’s second World Cup victory as well as the yellow slopestyle World Cup leader bib.

“I’m super happy,” said Sildaru, “My grabs could have been a little better, but still I’m pretty stoked about my run, especially about the rails.”

The Olympic champion Sarah Hoefflin had to settle for the second spot with 86.36 points for her run including a switch dub 1080 mute grab. Sarah’s teammate Mathilde Gremaud rounded out the ladies’ podium on third.

“I wasn’t expecting to finish on the podium today so I’m surprised and super happy,” Hoefflin said, “Everyone is pushing it so hard right now and there are so many dubs . Also Kelly is now back and of course she always kills it. She’s so good so finishing just behind her almost feels like winning,” she laughed.

All in all the ladies’ event was without a doubt one of the all-time best and with such a high level of riding the future of female freeskiing looks very bright. We can’t wait to see what the rest of the 2018/2019 World Cup season will bring. 

Ladies' podium in Stubai with 2nd Sarah Hoefflin (SUI), 1st Kelly Sildaru (EST) and 3rd Mathilde Gremaud (SUI)

Over on the men’s side things were equally interesting with a super stacked field of athletes going for their best runs all day long. 

The first place on the day went to the veteran Henrik Harlaut (SWE) who proved to be the most consistent rider of the day, stomping both of his runs with ease and style, squeezing in a nice combination of a switch left triple 1260 to a right dub 1260 on the jumps and an extremely smooth rail section for a final score of 88.88 points and his first slopestyle World Cup victory. 

“I’m a little speechless, but also I’m so so happy,” said Harlaut, “I had this run in my mind the whole week and to put it down in my first run it was amazing. I struggled during the practice, but it worked out when it counted. That’s probably one of my best slopestyle runs that I’ve ever done and also my first slopestyle World Cup victory so I’m stoked.”

The second place went to the US rookie Mac Forehand and while his podium performance came with a little surprise, the 17-year-old freeskier from Southport, Connecticut has all reasons to be stoked about his performance and his skiing. Not only did Forhand qualified for his first ever World Cup finals, but he managed to jump on the podium while competing against world's best freeskiers. 

Ferdinand Dahl finished the competition on third with a score of 86.76 points for his second run, claiming his career’s fifth World Cup podium.

Men's podium in Stubai with 2nd Mac Forehand (USA), 1st Henrik Harlaut (SWE) and 3rd Ferdinand Dahl (NOR)

The FIS Freeski World Cup tour now takes a break, just to come back in action in early December with the first halfpipe competition of the season slated to go down in Copper Mountain on December 7. The second slopestyle World Cup of the season will take place in Font Romeu, after the holidays break on January 10-12, 2019.

TOP RUNS

Ladies

Kelly Sildaru (EST) - Switch right 1080 mute, switch left 1080 mute, switch left 270 in - pretze 630 out, switch in to straight - k-fed, left 270 in - pretzel 270 out. 

Sarah Hoefflin (SUI) - Switch right dub 1080 mute, switch left rodeo 540 safety, backside 450 out, switch left lipslide 270  in to straight, frontside switch-up to straight. 

Mathilde Gremaud (SUI) - right bio 900 safety, switch left 540 mute, backside 270 safety out, railslide - frontside switch-up to switch, switch tails over to switch.

Men

Henrik Harlaut (SWE) - Switch left triple cork 1260 mute, right dub 1260 safety, switch left 270 in - 450 safety out, switch in to straight - rightside 270 in - frontside switch-up - 270 out, left 450 in over the gap - 270 out.

Mac Forehand (USA) - Switch left dub 1260 mute, right dub 1260 dub japan, switch left 270 in - 630 safety out, transfer backside 360 switch-up - pretzel 270 out, switch right lipslide 270 in - 270 out. 

Ferdinand Dahl (NOR) - Switch left dub 1260 safety, right dub bio 1080 truck, backside 630 japan out, straight to switch - switch blender lipslide 270 in to straight, frontside switch-up to switch. 

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