2011 Skier of the Year: Kaya Turski

May 4th, 2012 by

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As seen in the February 2012 issue of FREESKIER.

Interview by Matt Harvey. Illustration by Chris Hotz.

To say that Kaya dominated the slopestyle scene last year would be as obvious as
saying Scorsese is good at making movies. Kaya’s season was so good, in fact, we dedicated a full profile to her in our November issue earlier this year. Since we’ve already covered Kaya’s life, her season and future ambitions, we’ll keep this Skier of the Year profile to the essentials.

Kaya won all but one slopestyle event she entered last season. (She came in second at the FIS World Champs in Park City.) However, in the world of online voting, podiums don’t automatically equal victory. Plus, Kaya had a tough road to victory going up against Keri Herman, Ingrid Backstrom and Sarah Burke, each of whom had spectacular seasons. But she overcame those obstacles and after 20,000 votes, the people have spoken, and Kaya Turski is your 2011 female Skier of the Year.

FREESKIER: Hey Kaya, you’re the 2011 Skier of the Year!

Kaya Turski: That’s exciting! That’s really exciting.

FREESKIER: How’d it feel to go up against Sarah in the finals?

Kaya Turski: It was cool, really cool. Ever since I started skiing she’s been my hero, my idol, so I was stoked to be up there with her. It was a cool feeling for sure.

FREESKIER: You had tough matchups all the way through. Were there any matchups you were worried about losing?

Kaya Turski: I wasn’t worried, but I definitely thought Ingrid had a good shot. Keri obviously had a great year, too. I didn’t think I’d make it to the top, but that’s really cool.

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Photo: Nate Abbott—Alpine Meadows, CA.

FREESKIER: Will you and Sarah still be friends?

Kaya Turski: I definitely think so, yes. I hope so!

FREESKIER: If you weren’t in the SOTY bracket this year, who would you have picked?

Kaya Turski: I would’ve chosen Sarah. She had a great year. She had a good comeback from her shoulder injury. She came back with a vengeance and did it. I think she killed it. She always kills it.

FREESKIER: You had a dominating slopestyle season. Was there one event that you worked the hardest for or was the most rewarding?

Kaya Turski: I definitely worked the hardest for X Games. I put all my effort into that, especially coming back from my knee injury from last season. I trained my butt off in the gym and tried to get as mentally prepared as possible. That was my goal, to come back strong, and I did, and I’m really proud of that.

FREESKIER: Now that you’ve conquered slopestyle, are you going to move into the pipe at all this coming season?

Kaya Turski: Now that our sport has passed into the Olympics, I’m definitely going to be concentrating mostly on slopestyle. I’m still a major competitor, and I will still be competing a lot but I want to film and be involved in Level 1. And I’ve started my own webisode series called State of Mind. I’m hiring my own filmer this season, trying to get a lot of content out there. [Go to kayaturski.com to watch the series].

FREESKIER: Will your webisodes include some Mammoth backcountry or is it all slope skiing?

Kaya Turski: I’m obviously focusing on slope, but Mammoth gets a lot of snow, so I’d like to get some backcountry into the webisodes. It’s not just about park skiing, the webisode, it’s more like, follow me and my friends and our crazy ski lives. Go to parties with us, do fun stuff, go shopping, whatever us girls do. It’s not just focused on skiing.

FREESKIER: So lots of dance parties?

Kaya Turski: Yeah, lots of dance parties. You know, pillow fights, all that stuff that girls do.

Winter X Games 15 : Kaya Turski Ski Slopestyle Gold

FREESKIER: In your Freeskier profile in November, we said you dropped out of school. You want to set the record straight on that?

Kaya Turski: I did not drop out of school. I did one semester right out of high school, finished that and took a semester off to go out to Whistler and try out the whole skiing thing. It ended up taking off from there. Since then, I’ve been back to school twice. So, I’m not a dropout. I’m definitely going back to school. I want to be an athletic therapist. When it’s time to retire—who knows when that will be—hopefully I’ll be done. If I need to go back, I’ll go back.

FREESKIER: Who do you think will win Skier of the Year next year?

Kaya Turski: I think Sarah’s always got a good shot. I don’t have a doubt in my mind she’s going to have a great year. It’s anyone’s game. I think Devin is coming up. She has a good shot of having a great year as well. And Kim Lamarre. She’s skiing better than ever.

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About the author:
Henrik Lampert loves hot dogs, backflips, the Boston Bruins and Norway. Twenty-seven years old and a Massachusetts native, he's the Editor of Freeskier Magazine and Freeskier.com—a proud staffer since 2010.