Snowboarder Redmond Gerard — more commonly known as simply “Red” — has won the first U.S. medal in Pyeongchang, taking a gold medal at the Winter Olympics with a stunning comeback win in the men’s slopestyle final.
“It was awesome. I just told myself that I want to land a run and I was a little bummed on my first two runs because I fell a couple of times,” Gerard said, in comments relayed by the Olympics’ news service. “I’m just so happy that it all worked out.”
Gerard, who at 17 was the youngest competitor in the field, had been sitting in last place after his first two runs. He needed a phenomenal final run to reach the podium — and the Colorado native delivered, posting a best score of 87.16 to rewrite the leader board and vault past Canadians Max Parrot (86.00) and Mark McMorris (85.20), who won silver and bronze.
Gerard is the youngest American male athlete to win a gold medal at the Winter Olympics since 1928.
The win preserves the U.S. streak of winning gold in slopestyle, which was added to the Olympics schedule in 2014.
“It feels incredible. I’m just really happy that I got to land a run and I’m just really excited right now,” Gerard said.
After a qualifying round that was dominated by McMorris and Parrot, along with X Games champion Marcus Kleveland of Norway, Gerard faced an imposing task to win a medal. He took gold despite falling on his first two runs, posting scores under 50 points. He also managed to edge Parrot, who turned in his best score of the day on his third and final run. Afterwards, Gerard admitted to being unsure he’d sealed the win.
“I was really happy when I saw I came in as first. I don’t know, [Parrot] had a pretty good run, I was questioning it. But you know, judges have their own minds, and I’m super psyched.”
Gerard and Parrot will face off again in 10 days, when the big air competition starts at Phoenix Snow Park in Pyeongchang.