Team USA was obviously not going to be shut out of the gold medal count for the 2018 Winter Olympics, but it’s still nice to get one on the board.
But it’s even nicer for the man (boy, I guess?) who did it: 17-year-old Red Gerrard, a surprise winner of the men’s snowboard slopestyle competition.
Here’s his winning run; the event itself really is like something out of 1080 Snowboarding:
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 11, 2018
(You can watch a longer video here, including the scores coming in; I’d embed it but NBC doesn’t like to do that sort of thing. It’s worth it though, mostly for Gerard’s repeated “Holy shit!” outbursts at the bottom of the slope, and for the mosh pit of his fans once his score was posted.)
That was obviously a clean run, Gerrard’s only clean run of his final 3 attempts, but the vagaries of Olympic snowboarding (why would you not use an average? Or drop the lowest score? Does consistency mean NOTHING?) meant his score was enough for gold.
Gerrard’s background does make for a fun story:
Gerard’s road to the Olympics started in his backyard. When his family moved from Cleveland to Colorado, they built a rail park in the yard where he and his brothers could snowboard. That backyard terrain park is where Gerard learned some of his more technical rail tricks, which give him an edge over many of the other slopestyle competitors.
That family came along with him on the journey to PyeongChang. He had a cheering section — estimated at about 18 strong — at the slopestyle course holding up large cardboard cutouts of his head and signs like “We’re here to get Gerarded.”
And if you want to feel crazy old, and who doesn’t:
The whole entourage will have plenty to celebrate. Not only did Gerard win Team USA’s first medal of the Olympics, he also made history by becoming the first athlete born in the 2000s to win a medal at the Winter Olympics.
(Featured image above a screencap courtesy NBC Sports)