KRASNAYA POLYANA, RUSSIA – From the finish area at the bottom of the Rosa Style course, Keri Herman looked up at the video screen to see her Olympic roommate, Devin Logan, drop into her second slopestyle ski run.
“Devin and I have been saying, ‘It’s gotta be one of us up [on the podium],’ ” Herman said. “Preferably, it would have been both, but one is better than none.”
The Bloomington native already had lost her own chance for a medal Tuesday. A fluky mistake on the simplest element of her first run — and a fall on the landing of a jump in her second — forced her to settle for 10th place. But she found comfort in Logan’s silver-medal performance, and solace in the fact that it could have been worse.
A slushy, pockmarked course at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park made for many unhappy landings in slopestyle skiing’s Olympic debut. Defending world champion Kaya Turski of Canada wiped out on both runs in the preliminary round and did not advance to the finals. Teammate Yuki Tsubota wound up in the hospital because of a jaw injury after a hard crash in the final.
The other two Canadians, Dara Howell and Kim Lamarre, took the gold and bronze medals. Though she didn’t perform at her best, Herman was overjoyed for her friends on the podium and for the attention her sport got on a global stage.
“You win some, you lose some,” said Herman, whose best score of the day was a 72.40 on her second run of the preliminaries. “I feel like I still won.
“I couldn’t be more proud. I learned to ski with these girls, and they’re so awesome. I consider myself a winner; I’m an Olympian. This rules.”
At the Olympics, Herman said, every competitor was set to pull out the best tricks in her bag. The conditions forced them to dial back their plans.
The temperature in the mountains edged up to 43 degrees Tuesday, forcing crews at several venues to replenish melting snow with some of the reserves Olympic organizers have been storing for months. Several skiers said the slush and holes in the landing zones limited their speed and played havoc with their landings.
Though Herman typically does not get nervous, she knew the Olympics would test that. She had tried not to think about the weight of the world’s biggest sporting stage — but it hit her all at once, as she started her first run of the preliminary round.
“I’m pretty sure I was hit with every single emotion that you could ever have,” she said. “I almost threw up. I was scared, sad, excited, just crazy, all at the same time.”
The top 12 skiers advanced to the finals. Herman fell on the last jump of her initial run, then skied conservatively in her second to slip into 11th place and move on.
On a simple maneuver to open her first run in the finals, she awkwardly came off the side of a rail, but she gathered herself and finished with several tough tricks to score 50.00 points. Her second run ended when she sat down on a landing.
As skier after skier crashed, Logan and Howell claimed the top two spots with stylish, high-flying performances. Logan fell at the end of her second run but earned a score of 85.40 on her first to finish behind Howell’s 94.20.
“The skiing was getting slow because of the slush and ice,” Logan said. “But you can’t control Mother Nature. You just have to go with it.”
Less than an hour after the finals, Herman, 31, already was thinking ahead.
She tweeted, “Has anyone seen where the Road to Korea starts?” a reference to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
In the coming days, she plans to show her parents, John and Diana Herman, around the athletes’ village. She has tickets to watch the U.S. men’s hockey team — captained by Wild forward Zach Parise, who went to elementary school with her — and other sports at the extreme park.
“I’m really excited to be out here representing America,” she said. “This is amazing. It’s just so cool.”