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Winter X Games Preview: An Interview with Kaya Turski

The Winter X Games are happening this week in Aspen, Colorado, so we asked former X Games competitor Michelle Parker (who’s out for the season with a knee injury) to speak to a couple of this year’s Winter X hopefuls—including Kaya Turski, interviewed here. Michelle spoke to Kaya about her pre-competition rituals, what's on her iPod, and her 53-hour roadtrip from Montreal to Mammoth.

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I already spoke with X Games athlete Meg Olenick about her picks for the podium this year and how she gets ready for the competiion. I caught up with Kaya Turski as well. At last year’s inaugural women’s slopestyle X Games competition, Turski earned a bronze medal. She’s had a couple of bad injuries, but that hasn’t held her back.

What do you do to prepare yourself for X Games?

Ideally I get as much practice on rails and jumps for the slopestyle competition early season right up until the actual event. I like to go in knowing that I’ve got a good set of tricks I can throw into a run. The week before and during X, I like to try to get in a mellow state of mind and not let things get too crazy in my head. X Games can definitely get intense. I try to eat well and sleep well and dial all my tricks in so the day of, my body’s feeling good and I’m confident in my skiing.

Do you have any rituals that you stick to while competing?
Usually the nights before the competition I visualize my run at least once before I go to bed—that helps me get into the right mindset.

What does this competition mean to you?
Being a competitor at X Games has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl. To me it’s the ultimate competition and it’s one of few things I look forward to and wait for all year.

Can you describe the feeling you get prior to dropping into your first run?
Butterflies, butterflies, and more butterflies. Weezy’s bumpin’ in my iPod and I’m jumping up and down. I’m really stoked, but my legs might just collapse under me. As soon as I drop though, I’m in my zone. If there’s ever a time I’m focused 110 percent on my game, it’s then.

Personally, I look at X Games as the biggest competition in our sport. What does this mean to the state of women’s skiing?
I definitely agree about it being the biggest competition in our sport. It was huge that we got included last year with equal prize money and with a slopestyle event. I feel like we’re put on the back burner a lot of time and this is just a great opportunity to show everyone who’s involved and watching the event what kind of talent we have to show and where women’s skiing has come.

Who are your biggest influences?
Sarah Burke. Killing it since day one, still on top. No other way to go.

You chose to ride in Mammoth this year rather than join the party in Colorado, what’s the difference?
I’ve spent the past couple of springs in Mammoth because Salomon has a Jib Academy event there every year and I always have had so much fun there. You can’t really go wrong with sun almost every day and fresh snow at night. I spent my early season in Colorado last year and though it was really fun and they’ve got a great setup there, I really like how Mammoth is low key and I can train there all I want without everyone around me getting super hectic and hyped up for the next comp.

In making that decision, you went on a super long road trip from Montreal to Mammoth, any highlights?
What a trip! My friend Maude Raymond and I decided to take my car across the country and it ended up being a blast. Though we planned on doing it straight with no stops I sort of doubted I could do it but we ended up absolutely killing it. It took us 53 hours straight through Ontario, Michigan, Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and then finally California.

You are one to watch this year. Everyone knows what you are capable of and it’s intimidating for other girls. I think you’ve pushed women’s park skiing since you came into the scene. What other girls do you look out for in competition?
Well first of all, thanks! There are quite a few girls who can do really well in competition when it comes down to it…Anna Segal, Sarah Burke, Kim Lamarre, Kristi Leskinen, Ashley Battersby.

Is half pipe in your future?
Yes. I competed at the Dew Tour in Utah this past week and though it was my first days in the pipe this year I had a really good time. I have quite a lot of work to do there but I feel like I’m up for the challenge and could have a lot of fun with it.