From 2010 through 2014, Kaya Turski was virtually untouchable in women’s slopestyle skiing. The Montreal native won Dew Tour titles, World Championships, and eight straight X Games slopestyle events (including Aspen and Tignes) on her way to putting women’s slopestyle on a new pedestal.
But the hard hits that come along the rise to the top eventually caught up with Turski, and the slope legend has struggled in recent years to stay healthy, and, more importantly, stay mentally attached to the sport she helped develop.
After a few years absence, Turski has climbed her way back to the Dew Tour stage, but she returns to a different slopestyle realm, one dominated by women barely half her 28 years.
We sat down with Turski before competition kicks at Dew Tour Breckenridge 2016 kicks off to hear about the new faces of women’s slopestyle and how a new event format has the Canadian pushing her creative envelope.
How do you like this new format? It’s kind of got a rail jam and big air feel to it, right?
I’m pretty excited about it, I feel like it’s a cool kickoff for the season. Especially since weather has been a little tricky this week, it just makes things easier to split it up and it seems more like a jam format, which to me personally is a lot more fun.
Sometimes it can get really serious up in a start gate at a slope course and it just seems super fun. Everyone is gathering at the rail section, people are hiking, the energy is great, and people are connecting. It’s the perfect kickoff to the season.
So you have this history in inline skating, how do you think that works to your advantage with this new creative jib section?
It’s great; rails have always been where I’m comfortable. I’ve always liked to play around on rails; I’ve always approached them with a fun outlook as opposed to scary. I think that’s just because I’ve skated or skied rails my whole life basically. I think this is a really fun course, I’m having a blast out there, and I think rollerblading has definitely played a part in that.
You’ve been competing (and winning) at the highest level for a while now, what do you think of the state of women’s slopestyle in 2016? Did you ever think it would be here?
Well, I was winning a lot back in the day. I took a couple of years off and it’s been really interesting to come back in the game and see the progression that’s taken place in the last two years while I was away.
It’s crazy because I’m like double the age of some of the girls out there. It’s really cool, it’s really cool to stand among them in the start gate and feel the energy. They are the next wave, the next generation pushing the sport and it’s great to feel like I played a part in that progression. I haven’t competed at Dew Tour for a while now, so it’s great to be back.
What it’s like to stand next to some of these younger competitors that might have been influenced by you at some point along the way?
I mean it’s still competitive a little bit—that’s the nature of what we’re doing—but it’s also that I really love about our sport, that the camaraderie is strong. There’s the spirit of helping each other out.
I always joke, but it’s not really a joke, Kelly [Sildaru] is literally half my age and it’s really interesting to see her out there. She could be my daughter basically and she’ killing it.
I don’t want to assume that I inspired them, but if that was the case, even a little bit, that’s really flattering.
What is it mean personally to come back to Dew Tour?
My god, I’ve had the roughest two years. I’ve been debating about how honest I want to be, but I’ve been struggling with my health, a few components of it. My head, neck, my knees, have all been through the ringer, but I’ve worked as hard as I can to get back and to be honest I’m really happy to be here and to be able to ski. Just to be part of the game again. Where that takes me we’ll see, but it’s an honor to even partake.
Does this feel like a final lap or is there more you want to bring to the table?
I think it’s both. I recognize that I’m not going to be doing this forever and I think that taking time off was humbling in a way. It was good for me to step out of the scene and see that I am my own person without skiing. I have my life outside of skiing, I have an identity, which is sometimes a tricky thing when we’re skiing so much growing up and all we know is sport.
It’s not going to be forever, but I’ve also been working on some cool stuff and I think that I still have some cool shit to offer.