Kelly Sildaru


I don't know what the future holds for me, but I would like it, at least, to make me happy.


Because until today I haven't been happy enough.

I’m just beginning to understand it.

Now that my freedom is total, now that I can go wherever I want, I know I haven't been happy enough.

Pro sport is hard to enjoy, there are too many components affecting your mood. Too many things you can't control.

Too many things that are imposed and designed from above, that depend on its very structure.

Too many trips.

Too much pressure.

Too many interviews.

Everything is always very important and yet nothing is as important as the next race.

The past disappears, it doesn't count for anything, and the future grinds the days you live as if they were grains of wheat.

They go to knead an infinite banquet, in which you are not a guest, but one of the cooks.

It's like a carousel that's always moving, and the hardest thing ever, sometimes, is realizing that you have the freedom to get off. Because no one is there to remind you.

I have often felt on the verge of leaving everything, running away and changing my life, but I have never felt that I have the full right to do so.

Kelly Sildaru

I don't know why I started skiing.

I don't know why I chose freestyle.

I'm not even sure I was ever asked what I thought.

My father was a freestyler and that was enough to make him choose for me and my brother. I started with him, and continued with him, without asking any questions, not even the ones I had in mind.

At least until the day the questions were all gone.

And I was gone too.

Because finally I had my answers.

Everything seemed normal at first.

Not because it was, but because I didn't know anything else.

I was freestyle, and freestyle was my life.

As simple as an addition.

As evident as a truth.

It was just something I used to do. Everyday. At any hour of the day. Under the eye of my father, who was also my coach.

Kelly Sildaru

Then I fell in love with freestyle.

Of course.

And who could not?

With that feeling of lightness you feel when you jump into the sky and turn the world upside down. With that thrill you feel when you feel the ski detach from the ramp and suddenly you only hear the wind.

And you are the wind, moving without weight.

It's beautiful, and since the moment I experience it has always been beautiful for me too.

However, it has always been a job as well.

A project.

An idea of someone else's greatness, unpacked for me to make it real.

I was a shy, very sweet and independent child, but I was never able to discuss anything with my father without him ending the confrontation by shouting.

Dominating the scene.

Making me feel small.

I've never been alone, because I had my mom, and I still have her, but that presence was imposing, heavy.

Always in control of my life.

I remember my first win at the X Games.

I was 13.

In previous workouts, I struggled to build up the speed needed to jump high enough, and that made me nervous.

It was snowing, on race day, and my doubts kept growing.

I was almost certain that I wouldn't be able to do much.

Then, in competition, everything disappeared.

I did everything I had imagined doing.

And I won.

It was so important to me.

A special moment.

A moment that even today I can't tell if it was really all mine, or not.

Kelly Sildaru

I've always done what dad told me to do, when he told me to do it, and how he told me to do it, incapable or perhaps deprived of an opinion, of a will.

The hardest moment was the 2018 Olympics.

I broke my knee and had to give up.

The Games were his biggest dream.

And the fact that I failed caused his whole world to collapse.

From that day forward he got harder and harder, more and more control freak, and the heaviness of his manner carried over into the house as well.

He was mentally and physically abusive towards me and towards my mother, and I, who was now 15, was beginning to understand the value and meaning of his gestures.

In August 2019 we organized two months of training in New Zealand, and at the start of it I was so exhausted and afraid to go there with him, that I promised myself that this would be the last trip togheter.

If he had treated me badly I would have left.

After a week I ran away.

This too, perhaps, was not a free choice, but the consequence of what I had experienced.

Kelly Sildaru

I got on a plane, came home and went to live with my boyfriend, who has also started coaching me since that day.

And that he never left me alone.

Since then I haven't spoken to my father, except through lawyers.

I don't even talk to my brother, even if I miss him, because he stayed with dad.

Even though I feel freer today than I've ever felt before, there are still hard days, where everything seems complicated and where I question everything from my past.

The consequences of what I experienced will never leave me, and will forever affect my life.

I continue to ski, and I continue to like it, even if I can't always understand my emotions.

I'm just twenty years old and I've already done so many things.

Felt so much pressure.

Forgot about the fun.

And I would like to find it again.

I wish this was the time for me, the one in which I fall in love again with my sport, with the wind and the competition.

I would like to stop everything and start over, differently.

But since that's not possible, I'd settle for being Kelly and being happy.

Withthe skis in hand or on my feet.

Kelly Sildaru / Contributor

Kelly Sildaru