By Courtney Vermaas
A tough sport like slopestyle skiing requires a determined, resilient person to not only remain competitive, but continually stand on top. Kaya Turski is a female who has proven herself time and time again as an unstoppable force up for the challenge.
The Montreal-born, Mammoth-based skier has had a roller coaster background consisting of skiing, snowboarding, and competitive inline skating. At the age of 16, Turski put her focus back on skiing and has now been on the pro scene for five years. She credits her inline skating background for providing her with a solid sense for balance, air space and transitions.
After dominating women’s slopestyle in 2010, Turski ended the season on a rough note, suffering a knee injury during her victory lap at the European X Games. Turski has had more than her share of injuries during her competitive career, but she has the ability to focus on her light at the end of the tunnel and return stronger than ever.
Over the course of her highs and lows she’s learned the importance of keeping her body in shape, saying her injuries are “almost more motivation. I get that attitude of ‘it won’t defeat me, I’ll come back and show it what’s up.’”
Talk about a comeback. After a decision to skip the typical early ski season chaos this past fall, Turski stayed in Mammoth to take things at her own pace. She utilized the time to prepare herself mentally and physically and focus on simply feeling good on her skis. This method paid off, with Turski taking gold at Winter X Games, silver at the FIS World Championships, and finally another win at the Snowbasin stop of the Dew Tour.
Kaya’s key to success is consistency. She spends nearly every day of the off-season in the gym working with a trainer to maintain her body. Her routine regularly includes balance exercises, plyometrics, cycling, and more. She takes her consistency in the gym onto the mountain, which helped her with the Dew Tour win. “Rails play a big part for women in slopestyle,” says Kaya. “There are a lot of tricks being thrown on the rails these days, and major determining factors for us are fluidity and consistency.”
One area where Kaya is changing things up is her skiing agenda. In years past, she was dedicated to the competition schedule. More recently, she’s gradually started mixing things up and pursuing her abilities as such a well-rounded skier. She’s been focusing more on filming with Level 1, which produced a segment in this year’s “Eye Trip.”
Although we’ll continue to see Turski on urban features and in the park, keep an eye out for her to start popping up in the backcountry. Despite the variety of disciplines on her plate, she still plans to remain on top in slopestyle, saying “I can usually turn my comp skiing back on pretty quickly.”
Turski credits her female competitors with keeping her on her toes because of the increased amount of switch spinning and heightened comfort levels on rails. Although many of the women are close friends, Turski says, “when it comes to comp day I’m rooting for my them but when I drop in I drop in for me and it’s all or nothing.”
Through determination, consistency and the support of family and friends back home in Montreal, Turski’s smooth, fluid style has raised the bar in women’s skiing and become the new standard. Expect her to continue to push the sport of skiing, no matter what bumps in the road she may encounter along the way. “I don’t like ending on a crappy note. I know what my capabilities are and I’m not going to give up.”