Last January, I was one of the many Canadians that was thrilled to see the introduction of half-pipe and slopestyle skiing into the Olympic Games at the Sochi Olympics in Russia. I know that many women skiiers including freestyle skiing pioneer Sarah Burke fought incredibly hard to get the sport to where it is today. Another amazing Canadian athlete who’s been paving the way for women in the sport is 26-year-old Montrealer Kaya Turski. Kaya competed at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and is currently the reigning Winter X Games slopestyle champion. To this day, Kaya has won 4 Winter X Games slopestyle gold medals. Kaya is currently taking some classes at her local community college and will be back to competing in the winter. She’s definitely an inspiration for women in the sport and a force to be reckoned with. I’m honored that she took time out of her busy schedule to answer some of my questions. Here are my 5 Questions With Kaya Turski:
1) When did you start skiing? Do you remember when you decided that you wanted to compete and take it more seriously?
I skied when I was little, about 3 until 9 years old. Then I played around with snowboarding a little bit but my main focus after that was aggressive inline rollerblading. I competed in park until I was about 14 when I took a break from doing it professionally. When I was 16, I tried skiing for the first time in years and something clicked! I really enjoyed it and caught on pretty quick because of my background in inline skating. I decided to move out to Whistler after high school and the fall semester of college to see what I could do on skis… and then it all took off from there. Once I got into the groove I wanted to start competing, it’s something I’ve always liked. The challenge, the adrenaline, the focus it takes…. all very appealing to me.
2) What is it about freeski that appeals to you and that you love so much?
I like the freedom it gives me. On the hill, I can do (almost) whatever I want. In the air, I can try whatever I feel. And the lifestyle and travel opportunities it has given me have been amazing.
3) Last January, slopestyle skiing made its Olympic debut at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, how much has that impacted the sport and for women more specifically?
It’s hard to say yet how it impacted the sport. I think it’s made it more known, for sure. It’s great to see our sport grow into more mainstream culture. And I think the spirit of free skiing is still there, it’s freestyle core, so all in all I think it was a good thing!
4) You’re currently ranked number 1 in the world by the Association of Freeskiing Professionals, what are some of your most memorable moments in your career thus far?
Most memorable moments… that’s a tough one. So many really cool memories. I’ll give you some of my faves… landing my first switch 7! First try, I just thought I could do it and I went for it….. very cool feeling. I think that’s when it clicked that I could potentially take my skiing to the next level. Winning my first X Games! Cliche but always a dream of mine to compete at the X Games. World champs 2013 because it was a really crutch moment…. I was struggling all week and couldn’t wrap my head around anything, and I finally pulled myself together and landed my second run. Some of the best moments are when you’re really struggling and you dig deep and somehow find something within to pull you right into the light.
5) You have a cool web series called “State of Mind”, where you share your life adventures with your fans. What are some of your favorite things to do when you’re not skiing?
I love arts, crafting. I like reading, hanging out with friends, trampolining, the beach, hiking.