By John Clary Davies
When Kaya Turski stomped a switch 10 on the final jump of women’s slope, her father jumped in the air and yelled, “History!” And he was right. It was the first time a female had landed the trick at Winter X, and by doing so, Turski, the last competitor in the field, jumped from third place to first, as she claimed her third consecutive slopestyle gold medal.
Going into the run Turski trailed Australia’s Anna Segal and 18-year-old American Devin Logan, who was in first place after she concluded a flawless run. The run bumped her ahead of Segal, who had led the heat for most of the competition. Defending silver medalist Keri Herman finished 4th.
In between women’s and men’s slope, the Winter X-Games crew turned off the lights in the superpipe in a touching tribute to the late Sarah Burke, who passed away last week after suffering an injury in a halfpipe training run in Park City, Utah. After the lights dimmed, Burke’s peers and coaches formed three columns and side-slipped down the gut of the pipe holding lights. At the bottom they approached Burke’s family, including her husband Rory Bushfield, with hugs and flowers.
Men’s slopestyle began after the tribute. On his second run, 17-year-old and Winter X rookie Nick Goepper moved into first place after a double-filled run. It wasn’t enough to hold of Tom Wallisch, the only athlete to leap up to the rail on the top of the wall at the start of the course, from which he did a backside 450 out. When Wallisch landed his final trick, his competitors swarmed him in celebration. At that point, his gold medal seemed inevitable. His score, a 96.00, is the highest score recorded in Winter X Skiing Slopestyle history. Wallisch’s result pushed Indiana native Goepper into second, while Norwegian Andreas Hatveit claimed the bronze.
Goepper said he knew his lead wasn’t safe with Wallisch waiting to complete his third run.
“I was kind of hoping it would (last), but I was definitely worried,” said Goepper. “Typical Wallisch performing in the clutch and stealing it from me.”
Last season, Wallisch fractured his shoulder, which proved Thursday’s result to be even more rewarding. “To come back and do well here is amazing,” said an elated Wallisch.