Turski wins Winter X Slopestyle gold

Kaya Turski earned her second straight women's Winter X Slopestyle gold medal on Thursday, beating out Keri Herman in second and Grete Eliassen in third, an identical podium to the 2010 Winter X women's Slopestyle.

This is Turski's first contest since having knee surgery last April after tearing her ACL on the final jump at the Winter X Europe Slopestyle, which she also won. "I'm obviously ecstatic and really relieved," Turski said after her win. "I put a lot of pressure on myself coming into this event. The girls definitely put on a good show and gave me a run for my money and I'm just happy I pulled through."

Turski took the reins early with a first run that included a 360, a 540 and a switch 7, earning her a 93.66, the highest score of the day. Turski's first run and Herman's third run were nearly identical in the jump section, but it was Turski's prowess in the rails that vaulted her to the top of the podium.

Herman was in 9th place after her first run and crashed at the top of her second run. But then on her third and final run, Herman's smooth 360, 540, and a switch cork 7 earned her a score of 93.33, good enough for second place. "I am most excited," Herman said. "I was in [second to] last. Now I'm in second. My nerves are going crazy. I am so pumped."

On her second run, Eliassen chose a different rail line than the rest of the field and dazzled the judges with a cork 7, a 360 nose grab, and a 900 on the final jump. On her final run, Eliassen's skiing appeared clean enough to put the pressure on Turski until a hand drag on the landing of a 900 on the last jump left her relying on her second run score of 93.00, which put her in third. "I'm usually in the backcountry skiing, so coming to this is just bonus," Eliassen said. "But of course I want to do well."

Ashley Battersby, who celebrated her birthday Thursday, skied well throughout the contest and was in third until Herman's final run pushed her down to fourth, the same place she earned last year in this event. "It's the same field every time," Battersby said. "They're a bunch of good skiers. I'm just happy I skied so well."

Jen Hudak, the 2010 Winter X women's Superpipe champion, who was standing in the spectator area during the Slopestyle finals, said it was the best finals she's ever seen. "Every single girl was spinning both ways," Hudak said. "We saw super off axis tricks, inverted tricks, so many switch tricks. Girls are getting so much more technical on rails, and then there's style and I think for me style is when you start noticing the sport breaking off. When it comes down to it, you have to have style to do well."

And with the most competitive women's Slopestyle field in Winter X history, style was Turski's strong suit. "I definitely was stressed out up there because the girls were killing it one after the other," Turski said. "They were just insane runs."

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