Kaya Turski, 24, has been ranked No. 1 in women’s slopestyle by the AFP four years in a row. Last season, she won X Games, Euro X, both Dew Tour stops, the US Grand Prix at Mammoth, and was nominated for an ESPY. We picked Kaya to win the AFP title because we think history will repeat itself, for a fifth straight season.
We checked in with Kaya to talk about the upcoming season, Sochi and more.
Do you feel prepared for the season? I’ve had lots of down time, but I’m also training. I’ve been training in the gym a lot, on the tramp and went to Utah for nine days for water ramping. I feel relaxed and ready.
What kind of competitor are you? I really try to zone in. I don’t pay attention to what everyone else is doing. I want my friends—really every competitor—to do the best they can. But I’ve worked a lot on not paying attention to all the distractions. I realized I won’t be changing my runs 10 minutes before dropping in, so I try to trust the work I’ve done and go with what I’ve got. People might label me a stress case. I get nervous, but I think I’m in love with that feeling. That’s why I’m still doing this—I love the adrenaline rush and feeling of my heart beating faster.
Are you working on your mental game for Sochi? I want to get to the Olympics, and be in that same state of mind that I’m in when I’m dropping in for the Dew Tour or X Games. I don’t want to play it up too much. It will be the same type course, I’ll be competing with the same people. I just want to absorb it and live in the present.
What event means the most to you? There’s something magical about X games. It’s so much fun. The crowds are awesome—still the biggest of the season. Everyone is working on new tricks. There’s a nervousness in the air.
Plans for the season? I want to do the same tour I’ve been doing—Dew Tour, Euro X, X Games, anything I need to do to qualify for the Canadian team. But nothing above and beyond that. I want to stay as close to my normal routine as possible.
What drives you outside of the competition scene? Through my skiing and the way I live, I want to reach as many people as I can. I want to relay the message: work hard, it pays off. Believing in yourself gets you a long way. I want to work closely with the younger generation, kind of what Sarah did for me. I’m so inspired by what she’s done. I want to follow in her footsteps. Every day is a new day to learn more about people and life.
How did your past shape who you are today? Injuries have made me a smarter athlete and more determined. I go to the gym, take care of my body, eat and sleep well. Coming back after my second knee injury was a huge mind game. You know what to do on the physical side, but it was a struggle mentally. It brought me to work with a sports psychologist, who I still work with. Injury woke me up.
Do you work much with the Canadian national team? I don’t. They’ve been great at letting me do my own thing. I work closely with my Red Bull coach and their performance team. I talk to my national team coaches at events, and they’ve helped with travel, doctors, nutritionists. It’s great to have a team around in such an individual sport. But I’ve mainly been on the solo program. That’s what worked for me.