KELLY SILDARU – EST – 21
We didn’t see a lot of Estonian star Kelly Sildaru last season before she injured her knee at the X Games, but what we did see showed yet again why she’s one of the most consistently dominant athletes in freeskiing. Sildaru took second place at the season-opening slopestyle in Stubai, before locking down a third place finish in the Copper Mountain (USA) halfpipe, giving the Beijing 2022 Olympic bronze medallist podiums in 13 of 15 FIS Freeski World Cups entered in her career, including at least one top-3 in each of slope, pipe and big air. She’s a force to be reckoned with, and we can’t wait to see her back in the bib this season.
EILEEN GU – CHN – 20
The wildcard of the freeski world. We’ve got a pretty good idea that the Beijing 2022 Olympic big air and halfpipe gold medallist and slopestyle silver medallist is going to compete in some halfpipe competitions this season, but we haven’t seen her in a slopestyle bib since she fell just short of making it triple gold in Beijing. Eileen Gu is essentially Superwoman at this point, taking a full course load at Stanford University, walking the Louis Vuitton runway in Paris Fashion Week, getting her face plastered on Tiffany billboards in Shanghai, and occasionally dropping in (and taking W’s) on freeski competitions just to remind everyone that she’s the best all-arounder in the world. We’re not sure where she’ll turn up this season, but it’ll be a must-watch event every time she does.
ALEX HALL – USA – 25
The reigning Beijing 2022 Olympic slopestyle gold medallist, the big man Alex Hall remains one of the purest and most innovative freeskiers on the planet. Though he only earned one World Cup podium last season – a second place in Laax – Hall finished in the top-10 in five-of-five World Cups entered and did it all with a vibe that kind of made it feel like he had another level he’s capable of, should he be so compelled. If we’re being honest, Hall can be a bit of an enigma sometimes; one thing we’re sure about, however, is that there are few who can match what he brings to the table on those days when it all comes together.
JESPER TJADER – SWE – 29
Now entering ‘elder statesman’ category as he approaches his 30th birthday next May, Jesper Tjader’s status in the world of freeskiing continues to grow as the Swedish technician continues to evolve and innovate while locking down the accolades in the process. Last winter Tjader finished third overall on the World Cup slopestyle rankings behind only Birk Ruud and Andri Ragettli after he earned the win at the season finale in Silvaplana. Shockingly, that win was only the second of his World Cup career, and came almost 9 years to the day after his first World Cup win at the same resort. Few, if any, freeskiers have had such a gap between their first two career wins, but for Tjader it stands as testament to his ability to adapt, grow and stay on the cutting edge of the most progressive sport on snow.