KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (USA TODAY) - Now that she's won a silver medal, taking second behind Canada's Dara Howell in the women's ski slopestyle final, Devin Logan is going to Las Vegas.
The timing works nicely: Logan, 20, will celebrate her 21st birthday on Feb. 17, less than a week after claiming the first medal of her career. She'll hang around through the conclusion of the Sochi Games, taking in the sights and sounds of her first Olympic trip; once she gets back to the States, she plans on celebrating her birthday in Vegas with friends.
"I mean, it's my first Olympic medal," Logan said. "I turn 21 on the 17th, so there's definitely going to be some celebrating. Coming into this I kind of already planned a nice little birthday trip with all my friends to Las Vegas. So we're going to have a blowout. Why not?"
The only thing missing from an otherwise memorable birthday week was a gold medal - a pursuit stymied by a brilliant, gutsy and technically precise run from Howell, who claimed the top spot in the debut of slopestyle as an Olympic sport.
"At this point and time, I think it's one of the most exceptional runs that's ever been done by a girl," Canadian coach Peter Judge said of Howell. "Certainly not only the execution of each of the tricks, but the overall cleanliness of the flow of the tricks, the (degree of difficulty). At almost every piece of she excelled. It was pretty spectacular from all counts."
Howell finished with a score of 94.20, ahead of Logan (85.40) and Canadian teammate Kim Lammare (85.00), who took bronze. Two other Americans, Julia Krass and Keri Herman, reached the 12-skier final but finished 10th and 11th, respectively.
Said Logan, "Dara had the sickest run of the day. I'm so happy she was the one who beat me. She killed it."
While Howell, Logan and Lamarre medaled, several competitors struggled handling the difficult conditions at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park. Warmer weather swept through all skiing venues in Krasnaya Polyana, leading to softer and more unmanageable landings through the qualifying and final rounds.
Making matters more difficult was how quickly the course conditions changed. If "comfortable" Monday, the course turned soft during the qualifying and final, Judge said.
"You had to have some really significant internal fortitude to fight through all the day, and certainly Dara and Kim both had that," he said.
The conditions could have been a little better," Logan admitted. "I mean, it could have been sunny, bluebird, the course could've held up a bit. But you know, that's what happens. You can't control mother nature. Things happen. You just kind of have to adjust to it. But as of today, we all put down our best runs and we're all happy with it, hopefully."
One skier, Canada's Yuki Tsubota, who finished sixth overall, landed awkwardly on a jump near the end of her second run in the final, kneeing herself in the jaw. She didn't suffer a concussion, Judge said after the race, and is in "a good state of mind, a good frame of mind."
Amid Howell's gold-medal winning round and Canada's two spots on the medal podium, the ski slopestyle final was also noteworthy for the Canadian skier who failed to live up to her mammoth pre-race expectations.
Kaya Turski entered the event as the clear favorite for gold, one month after taking the slopestyle race at last month's X Games. But she crashed on each of her two runs in the qualifying round, finishing a disappointing 19th out of 22 skiers with a top score of 28.00.
On her second run, Turski landed too high on the knuckle of the third jump and fell backwards, eventually sliding to a halt at the end of the jump. It was "just kind of a bobble," Turski said. "I didn't mean to switch directions going into that third jump. It just kind of happened."
The result comes six months after the third ACL surgery of Turski's career, one undergone solely and specifically to prepare her for Sochi.
"It's definitely disappointing. I've worked so hard," Turski said. "I've poured my heart and soul into the last six months. But that's exactly what I did and I wouldn't change it."
The knee wasn't an issue, Turski said after qualifying, but a dislocated shoulder suffered after her first run - a recurring injury she estimates occurs twice a year - and a lingering illness played a role.
"I think it's just an accumulation of what's been going on over the past couple weeks for me," Turski said. "I've just been feeling really low the past two weeks I've been fighting this. This is day 15 and I'm still kind of struggling."