Over the past four years, women’s slopestyle skiing has lived in the shadow of Kaya Turski. Six straight X Games gold medals, five winter Dew Tour wins and 16 wins in the last 19 contests she’s entered can testify to that. She’s a titan of the sport, an individual who refuses to be anything less than her best. Her name is synonymous with winning. Call her dominant. Call her unshakeable. Call her determined. Call her your 2012 female Skier of the Year.
The quick version of Kaya’s season goes like this:
But those five words would do her a discredit. To merely say that she “won a bunch of contests,” would be an insult to her extremely dedicated training, tireless work ethic and unflappable mental rigor at contests. Those words can’t communicate her desire to be better, her pure love for the sport or her devotion of her life to a craft.
Sure Kaya has won a lot, but Michael Jordan was NBA champion six times and MVP five. He won Olympic gold twice. If Kaya wants some real career goals, there they are. Just wait til we’re all rocking Brand Kaya gear in 2019. Photo by Nate Abbott in Keystone, CO.
To sum up her season in such a casual way would be an insult to her colleagues who are desperately trying to keep up, or more appropriately, trying to catch up. Give them credit where credit is due, they are attempting to dethrone the queen of slopestyle. Unfortunately for them, Kaya can more than keep pace, constantly distancing herself from the pack.
Sure, as Kaya added X Games gold medal number five to her collection last January, her winning score wasn’t a humiliating 11 points higher than the next girl, as it was in 2010. But was the contest ever really close? In many people’s minds, no. She took hold of that slopestyle course by the horns and never let go. And when all eyes were on her victory lap, she showcased what she was really made of, dropping a superfluous switch 1080, the first for a female competitor.
A lot of folks had been predicting a Turski downfall last season. Nothing hateful but you know, maybe it was her time to be toppled. It wasn’t that far fetched. The injury bug has plagued Kaya in the past, Devin Logan and Anna Segal have tricks that Kaya doesn’t—even Cal Ripken Jr. had to take a day off. But in that singular moment, when she optioned the switch 1080, she distanced her competitors by leaps and bounds. She all at once progressed her sport, put the rest of the field in a distant second place and showed she wasn’t afraid to hang it all out. In a sport where many are criticized for not pushing the limit, Kaya stood alone.
After Aspen, Kaya went on to win the Winter Dew Cup, the US Grand Prix, Euro X, a fourth straight AFP slopestyle title and now her second straight SOTY award. It’s easy to be awed by her extremely consistent skiing; her accomplishments on paper alone would give her this award. But it’s not just that. It’s her intangibles. The ability to never crumble under pressure. An unquenchable need to push the envelope. An unflinching attachment to being the best.
The sport is filled with a lot of talent, yet Kaya is cut from a different cloth. She put all her gifts on display last season, and that is why she is the 2012 female Skier of the Year.