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Turski finishes third at US Grand Prix to earn Olympic berth, Howell gets silver

Kaya Turski from Canada shows off her gold medal after the women's slopestyle final Saturday March 9, 2013, during the ongoing Freestyle World Ski Championships at Voss, Western Norway. Turski locked up a spot on Canada's Olympic freestyle ski team the hard way. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Hakon Mosvold Larsen / NTB scanpix

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Kaya Turski from Canada shows off her gold medal after the women's slopestyle final Saturday March 9, 2013, during the ongoing Freestyle World Ski Championships at Voss, Western Norway. Turski locked up a spot on Canada's Olympic freestyle ski team the hard way. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Hakon Mosvold Larsen / NTB scanpix

PARK CITY, Utah - Kaya Turski locked up a spot on Canada's Olympic freestyle ski team the hard way.

The Montreal native made an unexpected return to action on Friday, finishing third in women's slopestyle at the U.S Grand Prix with a score of 86.8. Turski reached the podium despite not having skied competitively this season, and not arriving in Park City until early in the morning.

Dara Howell of Huntsville, Ont., who had already qualified for the Canadian team, was second with 87.0. Devin Logan of the United States took gold with 87.40.

Turski said she was training in Colorado when she learned her coach's discretion spot on the Canadian team might be in trouble and that a top-eight result at the Grand Prix would solidify her participation when slopestyle makes its Olympic debut in Sochi.

"It was very unexpected. I hadn't trained the course at all until 8:00 this morning," Turski said. "It was a little stressful because I've never competed on a course that I've only trained four or five runs on, and so I finally got here this morning knowing that I had to run through it right away and not really take my time. So I actually had a very good run considering the situation. I didn't bring anything new to the table I did what I knew but it was really solid."

Canada's freestyle team, including aeriels, moguls and skicross disciplines, will be officially named Monday.

The event ended up being Turski's first competition since suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee while practising in August. That, along with the lack of training on the Park City course, made for a tough situation for the 2013 world champion.

"I never want to be in that position again where I need to compete the day that I start training a course," she said. "Typically we're given three to four days of training, and there's a reason for that. I never want to spin a jump unless I'm sure about the speed, and it takes time to feel out a seven-feature course."

While the conditions of her bronze-medal run were less than ideal, Turski is pleased with the results.

"I'm happy, I mean I got third place and I didn't even plan on competing," she said. "I've got my spot now and I can go back and train."

For Howell, the event was a chance to try out a new trick called a "switch misty 9" heading into the Olympics.

"I got to throw it in competition for the first time today," Howell said. "My coaches have really helped me along with it, and the weather's so nice here and everything was just perfect, so it was time for me to do it."

In the men's halfpipe, Whistler B.C.'s Simon d'Artois was the top Canadian in fourth. Mike Riddle of Sherwood Park, Alta., placed sixth, and Matt Margetts of Penticton, B.C., finished eighth.

"I've worked hard to increase my amplitude, and it is paying off," said d'Artois. "Obviously there are things I want to clean up and improve on for tomorrow night's competition, but for right now I'm pretty stoked where I placed."

Kevin Rolland of France won gold, followed by Americans Alex Ferreira and Lyman Currier in second and third, respectively.

In Women's halfpipe, Calgary's Megan Gunning finished sixth, while Edmonton's Keltie Hansen came in seventh.

American Maddie Bowman took gold while Marie Martinod and Anais Caradeux, both of France, finished in second and third place, respectively.

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