(USA Today) KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia - For every Russian, Canadian or Swede that wipes out on the slopestyle course, Nancy Logan gasps and buries her face into the nearest shoulder.
She doesn't know any of the free-falling freeskiers personally, but she, like every parent waiting near the finish line, feels her stomach doing a rodeo 540. Now it's her daughter's turn to take her first run in the finals of the sport's Olympic debut.
"It's a dangerous sport, as we just saw," Logan says. A few minutes earlier, world champ Kaya Turski's tough-to-watch crash knocked the Canadian out of the competition. "Your first hope is, 'Please just be safe.' Then it's please just get a good run in."
Logan has watched her 20-year-old daughter Devin compete hundreds of times, but it never gets any easier. At the bottom of the hill, Logan has her headphones on. Katy Perry'sFireworksplays at the highest volume. At the top of the hill, Devin is dancing to DMX's Ruff Ryder's Anthem.
The course is slushy, the weather warm, but Devin isn't worried how conditions might affect her run. "Felt as if I was in the springtime with my friends having fun," she says afterward.
As Devin leaves the gate, her mother turns her back. She can't watch first runs (there are two runs, and as a rule she watches the second).
About a dozen times throughout the competition, freeskiing announcer Chris Ernst, commonly known as Uncle E, invokes the memory of freeskiing legend Sarah Burke, who died two years ago after a practice accident in Utah. Burke was a pioneer who fought for her sport's inclusion and inspired nearly everyone on the course. Her death is also an unspoken reminder of risk.
Freeskier Maggie Voisin, the U.S.'s youngest Olympian at 15, is at the top of the hill on crutches, cheering on her teammates. During Friday's training run at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, she broke a bone above her right ankle, ending her Olympic chances.
"It could have been worse," says mom, Kristen. "She'll heal."
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"It was her first serious injury and to have it here before she competes," says dad, Truby. "I think she'll grow from it, but gosh what a bummer. I think she would have done really well."
Truby says he's getting better dealing with race day nerves, but his palms still get sweaty.
"I just don't want her to crash," Kristen says.
"And you want her to do well," her husband adds.
Nancy Logan dances, with her back to the course, as her daughter cleanly executes each trick and jump. When she sees the crowd clapping and a friend smiling, she can turn around.
She throws her arms in the air. The score flashes: 85.40. "Yes, yes, yes," she says. Logan exhales deeply. She needs a cigarette.
Devin is in first place, until Canada's Dara Howell throws down a near-perfect first run, landing cleaning for a top score of 94.20.
Devin is the rare East Coaster in the competition. Growing up in Long Island, N.Y., and Vermont as the youngest of five children, she trailed her two brothers who would go on to become pro freeskiers and two sisters, former college softball players. She's been on skis since age two, but also played soccer and lacrosse in high school and football in grade school. From ages 8-10, she was the quarterback for the Baldwin Bombers, and the only girl.
Now she's the rare double-threat in her sport, competing in slopestyle as well as halfpipe, though she only qualified for the Olympic slopestyle event. In August 2012 during training in New Zealand, she suffered a torn ACL, torn meniscus and two microfractures. Instead of staying away from the mountain while she rehabbed, she got certified to serve as a competition judge, a gig that gave her a new perspective on the sport.
Still, in second place, it's time for Devin's second run. "C'mon, D, let's go," her mother says. "I'm watching. I'm watching. ... Nice. Ohhh."
A miscue sends Devin's skis flying. She slides a few feet, on her butt. She gets up and is all smiles at the finish, even though it's clear she won't challenge Howell for the gold.
The smile. That's all her mother needs to see. "That's what it's all about," Nancy Logan says.
Devin reaches into the band of her North Face pants, a uniform that she helped design, and pulls out a few handfuls of snow. Was she upset that the mistake denied her a chance at gold? "It felt great," she said. "I had a penguin slide at the end. I was stylin'!"
As Devin stood on the second step of the podium, her mother's eyes filled with tears. "This is something you see on TV. You don't see this in person, not with your own kid."
"I just wanted to make her proud," Devin says.
She did. Devin Logan is safe. She had a good run. And now, a silver medal.
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