SOCHI, Russia — Devin Logan had her right forearm tattooed with an image of mountains that poke through clouds. Above three peaks, there are six snowflakes, representing her parents, two older brothers, and two older sisters. Below the vista (which Logan says “in my mind would be the greatest mountain”), the words “don’t fear the journey” serve as mantra and motivation.
“It’s kind of my take on ‘don’t be afraid of what life gives you, take it as it comes,’ ” said the freeskier, who designed and inked the body art while rehabbing from a serious knee injury (torn ACL and meniscus and two microfractures) in 2012.
Between her chosen career and her injury, life has given Logan, 20, plenty of unexpected ups and downs. On Tuesday, she will compete in women’s slopestyle as freeskiing makes its Olympic debut in Sochi.
As in the snowboard version of the event, Logan and her fellow competitors will negotiate rails, boxes, and jumps as they ski down a mountainside. It is all part of the extreme makeover of the Winter Olympics, with a growing roster of daredevil sports geared toward younger audiences. Freesking halfpipe is also on the schedule.
“The world is going to love our sport,” said Logan. “It’s thrilling. It’s action-packed. It’s cool-looking.
“If you stand at the bottom of the halfpipe, you see all these people flying 20 feet in the air, flipping, twisting. What’s not appealing about it? You’re like, ‘Oh, are they going to land or not?’ You’re on your toes the whole time.
“There’s that adrenaline rush, even if you’re watching other people. You’re scared for them, but you’re impressed. It’s a lot of emotions packed in one. I have a feeling you’re going to see so many more people join the sport and want to be a part of it after the Olympics.”
Growing up in West Dover, Vt., 3 miles down the road from Mount Snow, Logan began skiing at 2 years old. A few years later, she was exposed earlier than most to freeskiing, tagging along to her older brothers’ competitions. Or, as she put it, getting “dragged around” to events across New England.
“I think my mom kind of got sick of watching me, so she’s like, ‘Here, you’re doing this, too,’ ” said Logan. “I got thrown into it at a young age. My brothers wanted a little brother, so they treated me that way. I give all the credit to them. If they didn’t really push me the way they did, I don’t think I’d be at the level I’m at now.”
Her brothers, Sean and Chris, are professional skiers who focus on the filming side of the sport. Devin went to Mount Snow Academy, then chose the competitive side of freeskiing because she likes the challenge of showing her talent over two runs.
“It’s the best feeling when you land that run and you know you nailed it and you’re going to be on the top of the podium,” she said.
Logan knows what it takes to get to the top of the podium, with slopestyle, superpipe, halfpipe, and big air titles dotting her résumé.
In 2011, her first full competitive season, Logan won the US halfpipe skiing title and Association of Freeskiing Professionals overall championship. In 2012, she reached the podium 12 times and repeated as AFP overall titlist. When she won the season-opening New Zealand World Cup halfpipe in August 2012, Logan appeared to be positioning herself for a place on the podium in Sochi.
Then, disaster struck days later when she blew out her knee, ending her 2012-13 campaign almost as soon as it started and making it tougher to qualify for Sochi.
“I was doing cork-sevens all day,” said Logan of the trick that led to her injury. “I must have turned up the music a little too loud or was going under a chairlift and wanted to show off. I took a little too much speed into the jump and went bigger than I anticipated. I knew right away when I landed on the tails of my skis that my knee was gone. I knew it would be a lot of work to get strong and get all my tricks back, but I thought Sochi was still there.”
By early December 2013, Logan was back doing cork-sevens and comfortable with her full repertoire of tricks. Plus, she came back to competition with some invaluable knowledge about what works and what doesn’t work from the judges’ perspective.
During her time recovering, Logan earned certification as a freeskiing judge. The certification process and time in the judges’ booth at various competitions took her mind off her injury and kept her around the sport and her friends. She also learned ways to improve her performances.
“I was at some World Cups in the background and it’s nice just sitting in the booth and seeing what the judges see every day and hearing their commentary about what they’re looking for,” said Logan.
“It’s definitely given me a whole new perspective on my skiing now that I’m back on the snow.
“We all know what they’re expecting, but I kind of look at the technicalities of my runs. If I put this here instead of there, they might like it more.
“The commentary I heard, I took it all in. I still want to make my run myself, but also please the judges at the same time.”
Shira Springer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.