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Turski golden in Winter X women’s ski slopestyle

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Jim Ryan Kaya Turski spots her landing during Thursday's women's ski slopestyle at Winter X Games in Aspen.
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ASPEN – Kaya Turski admitted she was feeling the pressure before Thursday’s women’s ski slopestyle.

It did not last.

The 21-year-old from Montreal laid down a near-flawless first run on a sun-drenched afternoon at Aspen’s Buttermilk, posting a score of 92.33. She bested that mark on each of the next two runs, finishing with a 96.66 – nearly 12 points better than he nearest competitor – to claim the first gold medal awarded at Winter X Games 14.

Breckenridge’s Keri Herman finished second with an 85, and Salt Lake City’s Grete Eliassen wound up third with an 84.33. Carbondale’s Megan Olenick (79.33) took fifth.

Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club athlete Anna Segal, of Australia, who tore her MCL during training in Vail a few weeks back, did not return to defend her 2009 crown.

“Last year didn’t go well. It was a medal, but it was somewhat disappointing,” said Turski, who was third in the inaugural slopestyle. “I can’t even describe it. This has been a dream of mine since I was a kid.”

With victory already secured, Turski completed a final run that included a 270 onto one of the long rails in the course’s upper section – or “Jib Garden” – a 540 and a switch 900. She finished with a switch 720 off the 68-foot “Money Booter”, raising both hands in celebration as she skidded to a stop in the finish area.

Her winning score was 11.66 points higher than that of Segal, who was the lone skier to score in the 80s last year on an afternoon marred by inclement weather and one major injury.

Canadian Sarah Burke attempted to land a 900, came up short and landed hard, breaking the L3 vertebrae in her back. Crowds watched anxiously for nearly 30 minutes as medical personnel attended to the 27-year-old, then carted her off in a sled.

“It was snowing and windy, and you couldn’t see 2 feet ahead,” Herman remembered. “The weather today was pretty much perfect.”

“It was nice to see the sun shining,” Turski added. “It gives you a good vibe, and you can go for it.”

Burke, a five-time Winter X medalist who will go for the first skiing four-peat in Friday’s superpipe competition (4:30 p.m.), was hardly tentative Thursday. After losing speed and having to bail out before the Money Booter on her opening run, Burke attempted a 1080 off the final jump on the second, then the competition’s only 1260 on the third. On the latter, she landed awkwardly and her left ski popped off and went flying.

This time, Burke walked away smiling. She wound up sixth with a 64.66.

Turski lost a ski during her first run in 2009. This time around, she stayed on her feet and had the whole field trying to keep pace from the start.

“I expect Kaya to put down a bomb run,” Herman said.

“It doesn’t put pressure on you, it pumps you up,” Eliassen added. “You even try harder.”

The extra effort was not enough to unseat Turski on this day, however.

“It’s unreal having gold hanging off my neck right now,” Turski said.

jmaletz@aspentimes.com


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