Red Gerard has won the United States’ first gold medal of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics Sunday in the men’s slopestyle snowboarding event.
On his third and final run, the U.S. athlete posted the highest score of the day, propelling him to the top spot of the Olympic event. The silver and bronze medals were claimed by Canada’s Max Parrot and Mark McMorris, respectively.
At 17 years old, Gerard’s gold medal win has earned him the distinction of being the youngest snowboarding gold medalist ever and the country’s youngest male gold-medalist at the Winter Olympics since 1928.
“I’m absolutely just mind-blown,” Gerard said about his gold medal win. “I can’t believe everything worked out, and honestly I don’t think I’ve really had time to let it set in yet. I’m just so happy I got to land a run, and just to end up on the podium is awesome.”
In the event, a contestant’s best of three runs is the only one the counts. Thankfully, on Gerard’s third run, judges of the competition rewarded him with a contest-best score of 87.16. Parrot scored 86.00 while McMorris put up a score of 85.20.
In an interview after his medal-winning performance, Gerard, who is a Silverthorne, Colorado native, recounted the complicated tricks he performed while flying through the chilly winds in South Korea’s Phoenix Snow Park Sunday morning.
Gerard performed high-flying tricks like “switch backside 12,” and “front double 10 out of the side hit, into a backside double cork.”
“Spins,” he clarified to the media panel. “They’re just spins. A whole bunch of spins.”
The snowboarding event was marked with frigid winds, which proved to be challenge for all of the competitors. Each of the contestants failed to score a clean landing more than once in their three runs.
“The wind was sometimes a tailwind, so you would go really far, and sometimes a front wind, so you would knuckle,” said silver-medalist Parrot. “It was pretty hard to deal with it.”