Kaya Turski And The Cruel Reality Of The Olympics


By all extents and purposes, Kaya Turski’s Olympics will be seen as a disappointment. One of the favourites in the inaugural women’s ski slopestyle, Turski crashed in both of her qualifying runs and failed to qualify for the finals.

Just like that, she goes from Olympic favourite to Olympic disappointment. Such is the reality of our view of the Olympic Games. Every four years we talk about and cheer for athletes we didn’t care about and know nothing about as a matter of National Pride.

By all extents and purposes, Turski is one of the reasons this sport is in the Olympic Games. She is a four time X-Games gold medalist, including three years in a row between 2010-2012. She won the most recent X-Games as well. She is one of the pioneers of the sport. In 2010, when she was competing at the X-Games, 2014 Olympic champion Dara Howell was only 15 years old.

However, given all that, the timing wasn’t right for Turski. She underwent knee surgery in August and only started back on snow in December – three short months before the biggest competition of her life.

Then, once she got to Sochi, she started dealing with a virus. It left her weakened and unable to train the way she would have liked. That’s what the Olympics does. It is only every four years. It means you could train all your life for a moment that never comes. The Olympics happen for two weeks out of 208 every four years. That’s less than one percent. If your event lasts one day, it’s even less.

It’s why people who don’t perform the way they would like at the Olympics should get so much admiration. Especially those with high hopes. If Canada hadn’t medalled in the event, we would likely focus on Turski’s failings. The gold and bronze medals dampens that quite a bit – we don’t care about the names as much as what they win. But it shouldn’t be that way.

Turski, a Montreal native, made it to the Olympics despite surgery less than eight months ago. She won against these same athletes less than a month ago. Her health let her down, and she just wasn’t on top of her game.

Steven Stamkos is another example of bad timing. There is no doubt he is the best Canadian scorer in the National Hockey League. And it is possible he will never play for Canada on the world’s biggest stage. In 2010, he was only 20 years old and deemed too young. At age 24, he was expected to be a major contributor but an injury kept him out. If the National Hockey League doesn’t go to the Olympics in 2018, where does that leave him? It’s unfortunately all about timing.

If Kaya Turski didn’t get a virus over the last two weeks, if she didn’t need surgery in August, she could very well be standing on the top step of the podium. She’s done it before, and she will likely do it again. But it just may not be at the Olympic Games.

From a competitive standpoint, Turski is probably really disappointed in herself. From an outsider’s standpoint, we shouldn’t hold all our judgement based on one day in someone’s career. Unfortunately, it’s something that happens all too often.

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