Repeat performance for Turski in slopestyle |

Repeat performance for Turski in slopestyle

Jim Ryan Special to The Aspen TimesSki slopestyle gold medalist Kaya Turski, center, celebrates on the podium with silver medalist Keri Herman, left, and bronze medalist Grete Eliassen on Thursday.

ASPEN – Kaya Turski was tested in her bid for a repeat victory in ski slopestyle at Winter X Games 15.

Once again, the Quebec native could not be bested.

Turski, competing for the first time since tearing the ACL in her left knee at March’s inaugural Winter X Games Europe in Tignes, France, took advantage of near-perfect conditions at Buttermilk to post a score of 93.66 on her first of three runs Thursday afternoon.

While they came close, nine other competitors could not keep the 22-year-old from capturing the first gold medal of these games.

Some familiar faces joined Turski on the podium. Keri Herman and Grete Eliassen, last year’s silver and bronze medalists, respectively, matched those efforts with scores of 93.33 and 93. Carbondale’s Meg Olenick fell on two of three runs and settled for a score of 76.33 and an eighth-place finish.

Six riders topped the 90-point plateau. In 2010, Turski’s 96.66 was nearly 12 points better than her nearest competitor.

“I think this year was a lot tougher. The girls definitely stepped up their game and definitely gave me a run for my money,” said Turski, who was third in the first Winter X women’s ski slopestyle in 2009. “I was definitely a little stressed out coming into this event. … It is a huge relief to have it over with and have it go well.”

Turski did not appear to be feeling much pressure on her opening run. She negotiated the course’s technical upper rail section with precision, then set her self apart with a group of clean airs – matching 540s and a switch 720 off the

70-foot final hit, or “Money Booter.”

“[Laying down a clean first run] was definitely a huge help,” Turski said. “I felt like I almost wasn’t breathing for that first one. The breath came back after that, which was nice.”

Added Park City, Utah’s Eliassen: “I just try to focus on myself when I’m going, but you can’t get away from the TVs up there. When you see someone lay down a good run, you’re obviously effected by it, but you really have to concentrate on yourself and make sure you ski the best you can.”

Herman, of Breckenridge, said she was energized by Turski’s effort.

“I was stoked. I like seeing everybody do well,” she added. “I think it’s awesome. It inspires me and encourages me to … pick it up and do a better run than I thought I could.”

Herman, 10th after two runs Thursday, saved her best for last. She secured a spot on the podium with a final run that included two corked 540s and a stylish switch corked 720.

“I felt good when I landed, but I wasn’t sure [if it was good enough],” the 28-year-old said. “Everyone was killing it today with such amazing runs. I really wanted a podium spot, and I’m really glad it worked out for me.

“It’s so good to be up there with a bunch of friends. I’m so proud of them for how they skied and what they’re doing for the sport. It’s amazing.”

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