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Kaya Turski

Sure, freeskier Kaya Turski, a 21-year-old from Montreal, Canada, has endured her share of injuries (including a split pancreas), but none of that matters now: In January, she earned her first X Games gold in women’s slopestyle. This weekend, she’s competing in Homecoming, an all-women park-and-pipe competition founded by pro skier Kristi Leskinen, at Pennsylvania’s Seven Springs ski area. We chatted with Kaya at her home in Mammoth, California.

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You got your start as a Rollerblader. And you didn’t ski until you were 16. Explain. I started Rollerblading when I was nine, and starting competing…

You got your start as a Rollerblader. And you didn’t ski until you were 16. Explain.

I started Rollerblading when I was nine, and starting competing at 14. I spent my childhood in the skate park. I also skated a lot of street—rails and ledges outside. The sport was always pretty small but when I was 16 it was starting to die down. One of my shop sponsors sold skis and one day at 16, I decided to try skiing. I moved to Whistler for the season. It wasn’t an overnight transition, but it definitely helped that I’d ridden ramps in the skate park and ridden urban rails. It was just a matter of getting used to having skis on my feet.

And now you’ve won the X Games. What was that like?Last year, I had a great year at Dew Tour. I really wanted to do well at the X Games too. I got…

And now you’ve won the X Games. What was that like?
Last year, I had a great year at Dew Tour. I really wanted to do well at the X Games too. I got the bronze last year in slopestyle and wasn’t 100 percent happy. I wanted to go back this year and give it my all. I had a great first run, and was in first after that. That calmed my nerves. Then I had a great second and third run. I finally won the gold—which was amazing. It didn’t sink in till two days later. It was absolutely surreal. I was elated.

Not bad for a girl who spent two winters on the bench with a slew of injuries. I had a big impact crash and split my pancreas in half. It was a…

Not bad for a girl who spent two winters on the bench with a slew of injuries.
I had a big impact crash and split my pancreas in half. It was a random, freak thing. I was in the hospital for two weeks and had pancreatic surgery. I didn’t ski for nine months. Right when I came back, I tore my ACL and meniscus and had to take another year off. I’ve also dislocated my shoulder. One day, I’d like to get into sports medicine. I can relate to a lot of athletes from having a lot of major injuries.

Any tips for people looking to get into skiing rails and jumps for the first time?Take your time in the park. Don’t rush it, that’s how you get hurt.…

Any tips for people looking to get into skiing rails and jumps for the first time?
Take your time in the park. Don’t rush it, that’s how you get hurt. When I was first learning, I’d go out early and get out every day. I did solo missions every day. Think about your tricks. Think it through—it’ll all come.

You’re in Pennsylvania this weekend. Then where to after that?I’m headed to Montreal to film rails for Level 1. Then I’m going to the European X…

You’re in Pennsylvania this weekend. Then where to after that?
I’m headed to Montreal to film rails for Level 1. Then I’m going to the European X Games in France and the European Open. Then I’ll be filming in the backcountry in France. It’s really exciting. I’ve never been to France before, so I’m definitely going to eat a lot of bread and cheese and try their wine.

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