Teenage snowboarder Red Gerard wins first U.S. gold medal at 2018 Winter Olympics

Jeff Passan
MLB columnist
Red Gerard, of the United States, reacts after his run during the men’s slopestyle final at Phoenix Snow Park at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. (AP)

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – Teenager Red Gerard won the United States’ first medal of the PyeongChang Games on Sunday morning, taking gold in slopestyle snowboarding with an array of daring spins, flips and stylish elements in a stunning final run.

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Gerard, who grew up snowboarding in Cleveland and honed his craft in a backyard park after moving to Colorado, followed Sage Kotsenburg’s gold in the initial slopestyle event at the Sochi Games with another gold after his three U.S. teammates failed to qualify for the final round.

After falling on his first two runs, the 17-year-old Gerard was in 11th place. On his third and final run, Gerard rebounded with a score of 87.16 to leap to the top of medal table. Canada’s Max Parrot and Mark McMorris won silver and bronze with runs of 86.00 and 85.20, respectively.

“It was awesome,” Gerard said after becoming the youngest American to win a snowboarding gold medal. “I just told myself that I wanted to land a run, and I was a little bummed on my first two runs because I fell a couple of times.

“I’m just so happy that it all worked out.”

A fixture on the snowboarding scene since he was 10, Gerard, who at 5-foot-5 and 115 pounds twisted in the wind at Phoenix Snow Park with ease, fulfilled his long-held promise. And he now can do what no other freestyle snowboarder has done since the discipline entered the Olympics: win two medals. Gerard also will compete in the Big Air contest, which will be held Feb. 24, the day before the Closing Ceremony.

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