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The next generation is coming
Saturday January 30, 2016 - Email this article to a friend

In fact they are already here. A 13-year old wins X-Games gold, a 15-year old takes bronze and already the kids are on their heels.

At the Winter X-Games in Aspen the Park and Pipe prodigies have been excelling.

Kelly Sildaru is 13-years-old.

To say she is a rather good freestyle skier is a massive understatement.

She is a phenomenon on snow.

She has just won the gold medal in the women's ski slopestyle at the Aspen X Games, the most important freestyle event in the calendar. 

It's the biggest win of her "career", if a schoolgirl just into her teens can be said to have a career.

But it's not her only big success.

In December she beat the world's best at the Dew Tour slopestyle final in Breckenridge.

The Estonian is the youngest ever champion at an X Games.

She took the record from the American Chloe Kim, who won the Snowboard Superpipe contest last year when she was 14. 

Kelly SildaruKelly Sildaru









Young prodigies are, of course, nothing new in the world of park and pipe. 

PlanetSKI was at the European X Games in Tignes when an excited 15-year-old Katie Summerhayes made her debut in the ski slopestyle. 

The Brit has gone on to achieve much and was the runner up in the World Championships a year ago. 

But it appears that the kids are now getting on the podium at major pro-events more often these days, and at a younger age than ever before.

On the same day that Kelly Sildaru took her X Games title, Hailey Langland, a 15-year-old from Southern California, won bronze in the women's snowboard slopestyle. 

Just over a week ago, Japan's Ayumu Hirano was being hailed for his brilliant run to win the Snowboard Superpipe at the Laax Open.

But at 17, he is almost a veteran, with an impressive record going back four years.

He already has  silver medals from the 2013 X Games (when he was 13) and the Sochi Olympics in 2014. 

His Olympic success turned him into a national icon in Japan.

He's also only the second rider in history to land the Cab double cork 1440, otherwise known as the YOLO flip.

So, is it possible that we'll see even younger "pro" champions soon?

Don't bet against it.

We've all seen the videos of the toddler snowboarders, haven't we?


And our latest freeski phenomenon Kelly Sildaru has a brother, who's also a freestyle skier.

Henry Sildaru is 8-years-old.

According to an interview he gave last summer to Sport360,  he has a gold medal from an international competition in Canada. He practises six days a week.

His ambition?

To be Olympic Champion. 

But first, he says, he wants to qualify for a Winter X Games.

Here at PlanetSKI we wonder how old he'll be when that happens.

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.

For the spirit of the mountains

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