TIGNES, France -- Canadian skier Kaya Turski won her fourth consecutive X Games Tignes gold medal on Thursday, making the most of the technical rail features and three big jumps on the Jeep Slopestyle course. Turski also won a bit of redemption, beating out Norwegian skier Tiril Sjåstad Christiansen, the 17-year-old X Games Aspen 2013 gold medalist who disrupted her long reign of dominance in January; Turski had previously won three consecutive gold medals in Aspen.
Turski led after Run 1 with a score of 92.33, then improved to 93.33 in Run 2, posting the two highest scores of the competition. Her top-scoring run included a switch right 450 on the top rail, a backside switch up, a left 540 safety, a switch right 540 Japan, and a left rodeo 540. Bobbles in Run 3 left her to anxiously watch to see if Christiansen had another winning run left in her.
"Sitting in a place where silver was the worst case scenario wasn't so bad," Turski said after the competition. "It's a great feeling to come out on top again."
Christiansen, the youngest athlete in the field, bumped into second place with her third and final run, partly thanks to a huge 900 tailgrab on the second jump, putting her ahead of Canadian skier Dara Howell, who finished third.
"I was in third, just trying to get this beast out of me and ski as well as I could," Christiansen said. "I struggled a little bit with the rails today and with my last jump, so I had to mix it up for my third run. It was not planned, but it worked out and I'm happy."
Thursday was a beautiful, bluebird day for the competition, which had been rescheduled after heavy snow and low visibility on Wednesday.
"The conditions were definitely not great yesterday," said Howell. "We thought the comp might go on, so we were prepared for it to happen. We took advantage of the training time we had. I really think it helped us pull off today. The course was running good today. Everything was quick and primed."
All three athletes will be favorites next year as Ski Slopestyle makes its Olympic debut in Sochi, Russia, but Turski is definitely the one to beat.
Turski's win in Tignes, a platinum event on the Association of Freeskiing Professionals' World Tour, leaves her firmly in the lead in the 2012-2013 slopestyle rankings with 4603.35 total points, ahead of Howell with 4364.70 and Christiansen's 4230.78. The official winner will be declared at the AFP World Championships at Whistler in British Columbia, Canada, April 11-14.
"I'm really psyched on how this season went for me," Turski said. "There are lots of new girls on the scene and it's keeping me on my toes. With the Olympics, there's been a big push on the men's and women's side of the sport. I'm excited to be a part of it. Things are getting more technical and that's what I tried to do today -- less big rotations and more technical, to show the judges I have a lot of tricks in the bag."