WANAKA, New Zealand -- Devin Logan made a triumphant return to competition Friday in New Zealand, winning the first FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup halfpipe competition of the 2013-14 season at the Winter Games NZ. The 2012 X Games Slopestyle silver medalist has been out of the competitive circuit since she severely injured her knee just two days after winning both the halfpipe and slopestyle competitions at last year's Winter Games NZ.
"The weather didn't cooperate as everyone had hoped, but I'm stoked to be back from my injury and happy to take the top spot," said Logan.
Gusty winds and flat-light conditions plagued skiers throughout the day, forcing the finals to come down to one run instead of the usual two as the weather closed in. Despite the rough conditions, Finland's AJ Kemppainen managed to pull together the best run of the men's competition to top the men's podium in the end.
Logan's run included a left 540 tail, left ally-oop mute, mute grab, right flare safety, left 720 safety with a switch left ally-oop 360 to finish. Fellow U.S. competitor Angeli Vanlaanen, who qualified first on Thursday, had to wait an hour to take her final run, which landed her in second place. Switzerland's Mirjam Jaeger came in third.
Kemppainen topped U.S. skiers Aaron Blunck and Taylor Seaton, who came in second and third, respectively. His winning run started with a switch left 900 safety into switch right 720 safety, left 900 tail, right 900 tail and a left 540 tail.
"The weather today kept coming in waves. It [was] super-cloudy, super-foggy ... and really windy," said Blunt. "But everyone had to deal with the same conditions, and it just kind of came down to who could put down a run."
Describing the conditions as "pretty tough," as well, Kemppainen said, "I didn't really expect anything this cool, but it's definitely a good start for the season and I'm happy. I'll take it!"
FIS World Cup at Winter Games NZ ~ Women's halfpipe
FIS World Cup at Winter Games NZ ~ Men's halfpipe