Surprise of the Season
Norwegian skier Tiril Sjåstad Christiansen, 17, became the youngest female X Games ski gold medalist in January with an upset win over Kaya Turski in women's Ski Slopestyle at X Games Aspen 2013. It's turned out to be a tremendous season for the young skier: She's No. 1 in the Association of Freeskiing Professionals' World Tour overall ranking, ahead of American riders Keri Herman and Jamie Crane-Mauzy, thanks to wins at the Engadinsnow FIS World Cup slopestyle event in Switzerland in February and The North Face New Zealand Freeski Open in August. Her next stop? X Games Tignes 2013, which takes place next week in France. This time we figured we'd better catch up with her in advance.
You surprised a lot of people with the X Games Aspen win over Kaya Turski. Did that win change your level of confidence for the rest of the season?
Yeah. Now that you mention it, I think it did, but I haven't even really had a chance to process it yet because we've been so busy going from one comp to the next. I've had a couple good contest results since then, but I also had a crash in Russia shake me up a bit so I haven't really hit big jumps since X Games. I'm feeling really good now and looking forward to seeing the course in Tignes.
Is there anything you can point to that you did differently coming into this season to get to where you are now, or is this just the year that it's all coming together?
I've just been skiing a lot. I've never skied this much, ever. I've been working hard to learn new tricks and stay positive, because the level of competition is definitely higher now than ever before. Everybody has the Olympics on the brain.
How much has the upcoming Olympic debut of Ski Slopestyle in Sochi in 2014 raised the stakes?
Everyone's working very hard to qualify, and everybody has been skiing really well. It feels like everyone's taking everything a bit more seriously this year, but we've also had a tough run of weather at some recent events. Going from X Games to the World Cup events was a bummer, because the conditions have been so bad and the jumps so small.
Does it seem like FIS has a slopestyle problem? What lessons do you hope they learn from this season?
Some of it has just been bad weather and bad luck, but they should definitely take a closer look at X Games for inspiration. The jumps and rails in Aspen this year were just about perfect. It's going to be important to get it right for the Olympics.
What are you most looking forward to heading into X Games Tignes?
The course last year was pretty sick so I think it's going to be really fun, but I'm only going to be able to focus on my own event. The sad thing is I'm just staying until right after my finals because then I have to race off to Spain for my next comp. The comps are all so tight together this year! I feel like we have to travel every week ... not that I'm complaining.