Much of the attention on the slopestyle events in Sochi has been focused on snowboarders like Shaun White. But Devin Logan and her other American teammates twist and soar down mountains, too — on skis.
I first met Logan at an Olympic qualifier event in Colorado back in December. We were hanging out at the base of the halfpipe watching the competition. She's 20. She smiles a lot. We bonded over Instagram and 2 Chainz. I told her I'd look for her in Sochi — but she didn't know then if she'd even make the U.S. team.
Well, Logan did make it to Sochi. And since being here, I've tailed her for a few days. The first time we sat down here, during a training session in the mountains, was in a chairlift — my first time ever sitting in a chairlift.
"Hold tight," she said, laughing, as the seat scooped us into the air, my microphone shaking in my hands. "You're fine until we try to get off. Hopefully they'll try to slow it down for you."
On the way up the mountain, Logan said being at the Olympics is still pretty surreal. "It's so like, out of my head. I still can't believe I'm skiing in Russia, in the U.S. freeskiing team. It's still insane to me!"
A Lifetime On Snow
But it's really not insane that she's here. Logan's been around sports since — well, she's always been around sports. Even when she was a baby, her mom "was coaching my sisters' soccer games and pushing me around in the stroller on the sidelines," Logan says.
Logan, the youngest of five kids, grew up on Long Island and always wanted to be on the snow just like her brothers — who both became professional skiers. Logan says she tried all kinds of skiing before picking freestyle.
"I even did acroskiing. It's like ballet skiing," she says. "You like dance to music basically on snow. And I did it to [the] Little Mermaid [song] 'Under the Sea' when I was 6 years old."
Just a few years later, her family knew this was getting serious. But money was tight, as it is for the families of many Olympic hopefuls. So they had a family meeting, Logan recalls.
"My parents basically sat me down in seventh grade, were like, 'Well, this costs a lot of money. Are you all in, or are you gonna just like half-ass it? We need to know: How committed are you?' "
She was committed. Logan ended up moving to Vermont from Long Island to ski and train at the prestigious Mount Snow Academy. And it paid off. The Association of Freeskiing Professionals currently ranks Logan as the best female freestyle skier in the world. She's already won several X Games medals and has overcome a major knee injury.
On Tuesday, Logan will be one of four women competing for the U.S. in the freestyle skiing slopestyle event.
A Bundle Of Cool
OK, I bet you're asking, "What exactly is slopestyle?" Well, it's a downhill course you can take on skis or a snowboard. The course has big jumps and several "rails" or "jibs" — those are things you can ride over or slide down. It's kind of like a big skate park, but with snow. The snowboard slopestyle events wrapped over the weekend.
Some athletes have called Sochi's slopestyle courses dangerous; superstar Shaun White even pulled out of snowboard slopestyle after suffering an injury on the course during practice. But Logan says she's not worried.
"This course isn't all that bad," she says. "What we do is scary in general. But we know how to do it. Walking across the street can be dangerous."
And that's Logan's thing — she says she doesn't stress. She eats whatever she wants, including McDonald's, right in the Olympic Village. Logan's pre-competition routine is sometimes little more than jammin' out to old-school DMX songs. In her downtime in Russia, she's just trying to pick up a little Russian and get the locals to crack a few smiles.
She's definitely going to college, she says, but she'll finish whenever she finishes. Her sport is her focus right now; she's on the "10-year plan," as she calls it.
Essentially, Logan has all of the strength and drive of a world-class athlete — it just seems to be wrapped up in a big bundle of cool.
Her mother, Nancy Logan, on the other hand, is pretty stoked, as they say. She arrived in Sochi on Monday, just in time for her daughter's competition. I caught up with her just a few hours after she got off the plane — her first plane trip in 15 years, she says.
'A Family Effort' To Reach Sochi
Sitting on the steps of her lodgings near the course, Nancy Logan said it took more than talent to get Devin to the Olympics.
"She went out, and she raised money on her own," Nancy says. "We had fundraisers through my store. Her sisters helped. Her father helped. Her grandparents helped. So, it has been a family effort."
Nancy owns her own small business, Wilmington Candle Co., in Vermont, but when that hasn't been enough over the years, she's done more. "I clean on the side," she says. "I clean condos, houses. Every little bit helps. If there's a child with potential, you want to give them the best opportunity."
Nancy doesn't make a big deal about this — she just does what she needs to do. "Whatever you do, whether I'm cleaning condos, or making a candle ... or whatever. You do it the best you can do it. ... There's no regrets."
From what I've seen, it's safe to say like mother, like daughter.
Logan competes Tuesday, just a few days before she turns 21. She plans to celebrate right in the athletes' village, where she might have a beer or two, she says, or maybe a little Russian vodka — nothing too crazy.
Win or lose, she says she plans to have a good time. Like her mother says, no regrets.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
Slopestyle skier Devin Logan is leading her sport as it debuts at the Winter Olympics this week. So far, snowboarders have garnered much of the attention when it comes to slopestyle. Well, Logan and her freestyle skiing teammates twist and soar, too. NPR's Sam Sanders met up with Devin Logan, who competes tomorrow.
SAM SANDERS, BYLINE: How you feeling?
DEVIN LOGAN: Oh, I'm feeling pretty good, yeah.
SANDERS: I've been following Devin Logan around Sochi for a few days now. The first time we sat down was on a chair lift during a training session in the mountains.
LOGAN: Yeah, hold tight. You're find till we try to get off. Hopefully, they'll slow it down for you.
SANDERS: On the way up, Devin said being at the Olympics was still kind of surreal.
LOGAN: It's just still so, like, out of my head, you know. I still can't believe that I'm skiing in Russia. Like, I'm on the U.S. free skiing team. Like, it's so insane to me.
SANDERS: It's not really insane that she's here. Devin Logan's been around sports since, well, she's always been around sports.
LOGAN: My mom had me and was coaching my sister's soccer games and pushing me around in the stroller on the sidelines.
(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)
SANDERS: We spoke again walking through one of the Olympic villages. She had a little time to kill before a TV appearance. Devin talked about being the youngest of five kids growing up on Long Island, always wanting to be on the snow, just like her brothers. They both became professional skiers as well. Devin says she tried all kinds of skiing.
LOGAN: And I even did acro-skiing. It's like ballet skiing. You, like, dance to music, basically, on snow. And I did it to "Little Mermaid," "Under The Sea," when I was 6 years old.
SANDERS: In just a few years, her family knew this was getting serious, but money was tight.
LOGAN: My parents basically sat me down in seventh grade and were like, well, this costs a lot of money, like are you all in or are you gonna just, like, half-ass it. Like, we need to know, like, how committed are you.
SANDERS: Devin ended up moving to Vermont to ski and train more and it paid off. Devin has a good chance of medaling in ski slopestyle tomorrow. Okay. Quickly. What exactly is slopestyle? Well, you can do it on skis or a snowboard. It's a downhill course with big jumps and several rails or jibs. Those are things you can ride over or slide down. It's like a big skate park with snow.
Some athletes have called the slopestyle courses in Sochi dangerous, but Devin says she's not worried.
LOGAN: The course isn't all that bad. I mean, what we do is scary in general, but we know how to do it. I mean, walking across the street can be dangerous.
SANDERS: Devin Logan has all of the strength and drive of a world class athlete, all of the will to win. It just seems to be wrapped up in a big bundle of cool. Her mother, Nancy Logan, on the other hand, is, as they say, pretty stoked. She arrived in Sochi today, just in time for Devin's competition tomorrow.
NANCY LOGAN: Oh, my goodness. It's been 15 years since I've been on a plane.
SANDERS: What was that like?
LOGAN: Scary. I'm not a great flier, but we did it. We did it.
SANDERS: Right before heading off to watch Devin train, Nancy Logan talked about what it took - besides talent - to get Devin to the Olympics.
LOGAN: She went out and she raised money on her own. We had fundraisers through my store. Her sisters helped. Her father helped. Her grandparents helped.
SANDERS: Nancy owns her own business in Vermont, Wilmington Candle Company. But over the years, when that hasn't been enough, she's done more.
LOGAN: You know, I clean on the side. You know, condos, houses. It helps.
SANDERS: Nancy doesn't make a big deal about this. She does what she needs to.
LOGAN: Whatever you do, whether I'm cleaning condos or making a candle, whatever, you do it the best you can do it. You know, there's no regrets.
SANDERS: Devin will compete in a matter of hours and she'll actually turn 21 just a few days after that, during the Olympics. She plans to celebrate right in the athletes' village. She might have a beer or two, she says, maybe a little Russian vodka. Nothing too crazy. Win or lose tomorrow, she's planning on having a good time. Like her mother says, no regrets. Sam Sanders, NPR News, Sochi.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.