The world was introduced to the sport of freeskiing on the Olympic stage Tuesday morning as women's ski slopestyle got underway in Sochi, Russia, and though at first it seemed like business as usual in the two-run qualifier, no one could have predicted the surprise final outcome.
Gold-medal favorite Kaya Turski, hailing from Montreal, Québec, finished a shocking 19th after crashes during both of her runs and did not advance to the final medaled event.
Conditions were again tough on the slopestyle course, with flat light making it harder for the athletes to judge speed and spot landings, but it's unknown what role the greybird skies really played in Turski's failure to make the grade. Her first run was cut short when she wrecked on the 13-foot-tall wall feature in the rail section, losing her right ski in the process and taking the brunt of the impact on her belly. While there was some question as to whether the crash re-injured the 25-year-old's knee—she only recently has recovered from an experimental surgery where her anterior cruciate ligament was replaced by both an artificial and a cadaver-sourced ligament—she headed back to the top to take her second shot at qualifying for the final.
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Turski kept it together in attempt number two all the way into the second of the three jumps on the course, when she washed out off a right-side 540 landed switch and consequently lost the speed she needed to clear the knuckle on her final trick, a right-side 540. She hit hard on the snow, lay there quietly for a moment, then rode down knowing her chances at the first-ever Olympic podium in her sport were over.
The Olympic qualifiers were only Turski's second contest since March 2013, and perhaps her time off on the injured reserve held her back more than she'd anticipated. Turski handily won the X Games women's ski slopestyle contest last month, which initially had allayed concerns that she wouldn't be up to her usual standard in Sochi, but alas, despite riding that momentum into Russia, it simply wasn't enough to keep her in the game.
Twelve of the 22 women competing advanced to the final round, with Canadians Dara Howell and Kim Lamarre leading the way. Americans Devin Logan, Julia Krass, and Keri Herman will join them in the concluding event.
The women’s ski slopestyle final begins at 1:00 p.m Tuesday, Sochi time. NBCOlympics.com provides viewing details.
WOMEN'S SKI SLOPESTYLE FINAL FIELD
Dara Howell (CAN)
Kim Lamarre (CAN )
Katie Summerhayes (GBR )
Yuki Tsubota (CAN)
Devin Logan (USA)
Emma Dahlström (SWE)
Anna Segal (AUS)
Julia Krass (USA)
Eveline Bhend (SUI)
Camillia Berra (SUI)
Keri Herman (USA)
Silvia Bertagna (ITA)
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