Kaya Turski after her victory Thursday. Photo/Trevor Brown, Jr./ESPN Action Sports
The Winter X Games began yesterday in Aspen, and no star was brighter on Day 1 than Mammoth’s Kaya Turski.
Turski, a Canadian who skis out of Mammoth, won her third straight X Games gold medal in Women’s Slopestyle.
Vermonter Devin Logan, just 18, placed second. Veteran Australian Anna Segal was third.
Turski’s victory put a strong Mammoth stamp on the X Games, with more to come.
The games also opened under a dark cloud, with the spirit of freeskier Sarah Burke hanging over Buttermilk Mountain, where the games are conducted.
(Most of the events will appear on the ESPN family of networks. A full live-time schedule is on ESPN.com, along with a television schedule.)
Last night, ESPN honored late freeskiing pioneer Burke with a live tribute during the 6 p.m. telecast.
Burke died Jan. 19 after she succumbed to injuries suffered in a training accident nine days earlier in the halfpipe at Utah’s Park City Mountain. She was 29.
A six-time Winter X Games champion, Burke was set to defend her gold medal this week in Aspen in the Women’s Ski SuperPipe finals on Saturday.
“Sarah has been such an inspiration to so many including myself,” said Ski Slopestyle competitor Keri Herman.
Added Swiss skier Mirjam Jaeger, “Sarah’s positive attitude, her smiles, her kindness and her extraordinary skiing will be missed, but never forgotten.”
The most dominant female in slopestyle’s young history, Turski struck gold at WX 2010, WX 2011 and both WX Europe 2010 and 2011.
She has superb rail skills, something that distinguishes her from other women.
Always on the cutting edge, Turski became the first woman to land a switch 1080 at the March 2011 Nine Queens big air competition in Austria. She has also started filming for her own webisode series called State of Mind. Turski is favored to claim a three-peat at Winter X 2012.
Another one to watch closely is John Teller, the irrepressible auto mechanic at Alpine Garage in Mammoth.
Teller was just warming up when he became the first American to win a skiercross World Cup (Jan. 2011, St. Johann, AUT): He netted his first Skier X medal—gold in a near photo finish at WX 2011.
One of a handful of American skiers competing in skiercross, Teller was a successful alpine racer who went to Nationals on four separate occasions. When he isn’t bumping elbows on the course, Teller works at the garage to support his skiing; he receives very little funding and must do it alone. In July 2011, he married longtime girlfriend Angela Dessert.
Other Mammoth athletes to watch include:
The 21-year-old Mammoth rider has been at WX three times with mixed results, narrowly missing the podium in 2010 (4th place) and missing the finals the other two times.
He has big tricks, including a new double backside rodeo and double McTwist, but he’s not the most consistent in contests. In 2010, Bretz was the last member selected for the 2010 U.S. Winter Olympic team, and he ended up finishing 12th at the event.
Flanagan was the rookie to watch in 2010. He was an “It” kid entering WX but got the rookie jitters. Some thought that he’d been passed by in 2011, but he silenced the critics by unleashing a barrage of spins, clean double corks and tech rail tricks to earn Slopestyle bronze.
He has a nice, compact style and tricks like backside double cork 1080s, frontside 1080s and Cab 1260s. Still just 18, Flanagan was part of an all-teen Slopestyle podium in 2011.
The 23-year-old is one of the prolific Frends crew. He used to go huge but without control. Those days are over; now he’s got his tricks and amplitude. He broke his leg in June 2011, but the progressive rider should have his Cab alley-oop 720 and backside 1260 in his halfpipe run this year. His younger brother Luke will also be at WX 2012.
Mitrani was the most stylish in the 2011 WX Best Method contest, sporting a vintage 1-piece ski suit from Burton. Jack is a huge Frends promoter, putting together www.frendsvision.com
where footage of the group is displayed, and he organized the “Frendly Gathering” music festival in 2011.
The younger brother of Jack, Luke is showing signs that he’s ready to place his name among the top halfpipe riders in the world after winning the 2011 Utah Dew Tour stop and the first big event of the 2011/12 season, the Copper Grand Prix in December 2011.
Stylish and known for one of the best Michalchuks on the current halfpipe scene, he’s part of the prolific Frends crew. The 21-year-old took the summer off of snowboarding and immersed himself in music (playing and listening to it) and skateboarding.
You’ve seen him. He’s the dude hitting every jump in the park, doing every trick in the book, and never falling. That’s Lonnie Kauk, and he grew up right here in the Eastern Sierra. He’s darn good at spinning, and he’s never anything but smooth while he does it.
John and Eric Jackson
These are two snowboarders from Crowley Lake. These brothers are both pro riders and film with Standard films.