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Meet the two best friends who are putting women’s freestyle skiing on the map

Meet Olympic silver medalist Devin Logan aka DLo.

She’s the loud, adventurous one.

The 24-year-old from West Dover, Vt., is the freestyle skiier you can find at the start gate, dancing and rapping to her favorite beats before a run. Logan is also a classic “Comeback Queen,” who is known for recovering from a gnarly ACL tear and fractured knee before she made history in 2014. That year during the Winter Olympics in Sochi, she earned second place at the first-ever women’s slopestyle event. Some of her teammates jokingly say DLo is a “thug” because of all the crazy stunts she pulls on and off the slopes, and she no signs of slowing down.

“I want to one day be that old woman who can still land a 360 and freak some little kids out,” she said.

Now meet her buddy: Olympic gold medalist Maddie Bowman.

She’s the task-oriented “Energizer Bunny.”

When she’s not skiing, the South Lake Tahoe, Calif., native is either hiking, mountain biking, wakeboarding, studying for her college degree or walking her dog Charlie—sometimes all in the same day. In 2014, she was the first woman to win the halfpipe event at the Olympic Games and her next goal isn’t necessarily to repeat that performance in 2018. Bowman, 23, is more about having fun, feeling free and extending her boundaries to see where that takes her.

“The slopes are a place where I can truly be myself,” said Bowman. “Freestyle was built on rebellion from traditional ski racing and what we do is very creative.”

These two women have been training, laughing, crashing and competing together on the US Ski Team for the past eight years and as Pyeongchang 2018 draws near, the dynamic duo will make sure to have each other’s backs in a male-dominated sport.

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“It’s cool to have a friend to come up with,” said Logan as she looked back on their careers. “We support each other. If I don’t win, I want Maddie to win. We push each other. We’ve seen each other go from nobody to somebody right before each other’s eyes.”

The New Generation of Female Skiiers

Logan and Bowman grew up in an era where women were still trying to find their place in the freeskiing world. In the early 2000s, competitions did not have women’s divisions because there weren’t enough participants, while the lack of divisions failed to encourage the growth of female participants.

When Canadian skiing legend Sarah Burke successfully lobbied for more women’s events, female athletes were forced to compete either early during the day before spectators arrived on site or wait for when the schedule had space to fit them in. The X Games only started allowing women to enter in 2005. Burke—a four-time X-Games gold medalist in the superpipe— was then determined to get women equal prize money. At the time, male athletes earned up to $20,000 while female athletes hoped to get at least $2,000. By 2008, the X Games finally awarded men and women the same prizes, but Burke didn’t stop there. She eventually convinced the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to add freestyle skiing to the 2014 program in Sochi.

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But in 2012, Burke died due to injuries she sustained in a training crash—just two years before she could claim her own Olympic title. She was favored to win gold in the halfpipe.

Instead, Bowman stood in her place and she does not take Burke’s legacy lightly.

“I think we are lucky because Sarah Burke worked so hard to get us into events we compete in,” said Bowman. “However, sometimes [female athletes] still get shit on. People say things like ‘Women are so far behind. Are you even trying?’ I at one point wondered why I was even doing this. If I’m just going to get ripped apart every time I put myself out there like why?”

“Yeah, there are a lot of haters out there,” added Logan, who had always been “one of the boys” throughout her childhood.

She started skiing at 2 years old because she wanted to do everything that her older brothers did and she always aspired to be as daring as some of the guys she saw on the slopes. But she realized that many girls who are not comfortable exploring freeskiing due to fear of criticism and harsh judgement. Logan hopes that her success on the mountain will send these young women a different message and garner more support for female skiers.

“Our sport is still so new and I think the Olympics have helped us to get on the worldwide stage,” said Logan. “You’re seeing other countries starting to flood a lot of money into these sports and it’s awesome. But then you have those people who hate and that’s discouraging for the next generation of girls who come up. We want them to try. If they get that hate in the park, they aren’t even going to try.”

[More from Excelle Sports: FIS official calls Lindsey Vonn’s request to compete against men a “very difficult challenge”]

For the past two years, Bowman has hosted a weeklong women-only ski event at Sierra-at-Tahoe to help change the culture of their sport. She calls it “Recess” because for her it’s a safe space for both professional and budding female athletes to have fun, test new tricks and express themselves without judgement.

“It’s honestly the best event,” said Bowman. “You stay at my house and we hang out afterwards and have wine on the roof. I make sure to have the boys work the whole event and drive the sleds.”

But Recess also serves another function as it has the potential to increase the visibility and appreciation of female skiers in the media, according to Bowman.

“There’s not a lot of film and photography opportunities for girls,” she said. “That’s a huge side of skiing so I wanted to help provide that. A lot of guys hire photographers and have them follow them around and film them. Women don’t really do that and I think there are financial reasons.”

Bowman made sure to gather sponsors, photographers and videographers to help cover the event. The #Recess17 album features photos of female skiiers slashing their way down a halfpipe wall, others spinning over BMX jumps—Logan striking a sexy pose or enjoying (what looks like) Sun Chips during snack time.

All in all, it appears that Bowman, Logan and Friends just enjoy going with the flow, empowering their teammates and embracing the elements.

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That’s how they are approaching training as they look towards the 2018 Olympics. Right now, Bowman and Logan aren’t really thinking about the pressure, but just joy of the journey and where women’s skiing is headed.

“Now going into our next [Olympics], we have those titles to our names, there is going to be more pressure,” said Logan. “But even if I have a bad day, no one can take [my accomplishments] away from me. That helps me to tone the pressure down. It’s also not all about competition. It’s about why you started skiing. That brings out the best skiing in you.”

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