Skiing phenom and defending champ Kaya Turski (@kayaturski) was the one to beat in women’s slopestyle at Winter X Games 15. But no one could take the first gold medal of this year’s games away from the 22- year-old Quebec native. Even though Turski had knee surgery last spring after tearing her ACL at March’s Winter X Games Europe in France, she took advantage of near-perfect conditions at Buttermilk to post a score of 93.66 on her first of three runs Thursday afternoon.
Some familiar faces joined Turski on the podium. Keri Herman and Grete Eliassen, last year’s silver and bronze medalists, respectively, matched her efforts with scores of 93.33 and 93.
Women’s pipe was a little more open than slopestyle. Sarah Burke, just back from shoulder surgery, surprised those not sure she’d be in gold-medal form in time. Burke won her fourth Winter X SuperPipe gold medal Thursday while Winter X rookie Brita Sigourney placed second, and Roz Groenewoud rounded out the podium.
The biggest surprise, and heartbreak, of the contest came from reigning champion Jen Hudak. Hudak’s been holding her momentum from last year, skiing well and was probably the favorite to win. On her third and final run Hudak dropped into the pipe determined to defend her title. When her skis touched down on her final hit, the crowd had already begun to celebrate, but then some slough in the flat bottom took her off her feet, robbing her of what would have been the first 1080 by a woman in a ski SuperPipe competition as well as the gold. Full Results
For some great behind-the-scenes commentary of what’s happening at Winter X, follow 2002 Olympic snowboarder Tricia Byrnes over at espnW.