Talk about putting your foot in your mouth: Years after freeskier Devin Logan's older brothers tried in vain to keep their little sister off the slopes, they could be watching her step onto the podium Tuesday afternoon as the first female ever to take home a medal at the Winter Olympics for ski slopestyle. With the U.S. Team taking a serious blow as 15-year-old Maggie Voisin, the youngest American Olympian in Sochi, dropped out of the Games due to an ankle injury on Friday, it's up to teammates Keri Herman and Logan to nab the win—something Logan knows plenty about, having scored big both on the slopes and as the one doing the ranking in the judges' tower.
Logan started skiing at age 2 on her home turf in West Dover, Vermont, on Mount Snow, where she'd trail her reluctant older brothers on an ever-changing backdrop of powder, hardpack, and crusted ice—conditions that prepared her for a variety of competitive landscapes. During her rookie year of competition, she nabbed her first X Games medal with a halfpipe bronze in Tignes, France, her first U.S. halfpipe skiing title, and the overall Association of Freeskiing Professionals (AFP) crown. Now she's one of the few skiers who compete in both halfpipe and slopestyle skiing; she’s the winner of three X Games medals, three World Cup halfpipe medals, the 2011 U.S. halfpipe championship, and the 2011 and 2012 AFP overall championship titles.
Still, knowing that 20-year-old Logan (she turns 21 during the Games) is competing at all is almost unbelievable when you realize she's still coming down from a trampoline period of injury and recovery; she blew out her knee during training in New Zealand a year and a half before the Olympics and was forced to pry off her skis for months as she healed, causing her to nearly miss the narrow competition window that would let her qualify for the 2014 Games. Yet it's that same misfortune that gave her a unique opportunity as an athlete: She used her recovery period to learn how to judge some of the same events she normally competes in.
When Logan suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus and two micro-fractures—her doctor described them as the worst he's ever seen—she knew she had to come to terms with her injury—and quickly. "My knee injury was devastating, but I really tried to stay optimistic," she says. After attending a judges' clinic in Utah, Logan was approached by AFP head judge Steele Spence, who suggested she start to do some work in the booth.
A short time later, Logan was judging her first contest, The North Face Park & Pipe Open Series, and later the Dew Tour Big Air contest, both in Colorado, where she learned to evaluate criteria like execution, combination and variety of tricks, degree of difficulty, and whether or not tricks get increasingly more difficult as a skier performs.
"I didn't know about the criteria before then and how much it takes everything in your run, from progression to execution, into account," Logan told the Burlington Free Press.
Now, as Logan prepares to become a frontrunner for the U.S. women's ski slopestyle team, she's in a unique position: If she can call on her experience in the judges’ tower, she could be the first woman ever to take home gold for slopestyle.
Women’s ski slopestyle qualifications begin at 10 a.m Tuesday, Sochi time. NBCOlympics.com provides viewing details.
More Winter Olympics stories on GrindTV