Gold medalist Red Gerard celebrates at the victory ceremony for the men's slopestyle snowboarding final at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 on Feb. 11, 2018 in PyeongChang, South Korea.
One of the youngest members of Team USA is now the first to win a medal at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, and not just any medal.
Red Gerard, a 17-year-old from Silverthorne, Colorado, jumped from eighth after his second run to first with an 87.16 in his third and final run to win the gold medal in men’s slopestyle snowboarding on Sunday morning. Canadians Max Parrott and Mark McMorris won silver and bronze with scores of 86.00 and 85.20, respectively.
"When that score came up my jaw dropped," Gerard said. "I was like, this isn’t real. I would have been happy to just land a run, but to land a run and win, it’s crazy."
Gerard becomes the youngest U.S. snowboarder ever to win an Olympic medal since the sport made its Olympic debut 20 years ago - and the youngest snowboarding gold medal of any nation.
The U.S. has now won gold in men’s slopestyle snowboarding at each of its Olympic appearances. Sage Kotsenburg won gold in the event’s debut in Sochi in 2014.
Gerard has a reputation for being cool under pressure and never letting the enormity of the moment affect his riding, and that was certainly the case on Sunday morning. He was the only one of four U.S. riders to make the final, and he was in seventh place after his first run and eighth after his second. But the famously relaxed teenager took to his third and final run and breezed through the upper rail section as he did the first two runs, then nailed every jump and made it look easy to soar into gold-medal position.
"I’m just insanely excited right now," he said. "I can’t believe it all worked out. I just wanted to land a run. After falling on my second run, I was really excited for the third run."
En route to making his first Olympic team, Gerard won two of five Olympic selection events and finished second at a third. He also won the 2016-17 world cup crystal globe in slopestyle in a season that included first-, third- and fourth-place finishes.
Gerard will contend for another medal in big air, which makes its debut at these Games, with the final set for Feb. 24. He was second at a big air world cup in Milan earlier this season, proving he is a medal threat in that event as well.