Tuesday - February 20th, 2018

Snowboarder Red Gerard wins first U.S. gold medal of 2018 Winter Olympics


Snowboarder Red Gerard wins first U.S. gold medal of 2018 Winter Olympics

For the second Olympics in a row, the first U.S. medal of the Winter Olympics has come in men's snowboard slopestyle.

And once again, it was an upset.

Red Gerard, a 17-year-old from Colorado, was sitting in last place heading into the third and final run. Like many riders, he had struggled to land a clean run on his first two attempts. But when the pressure was on, he delivered..

During his run, Gerard's creativity was on full display, as he repeatedly used features of the course that other riders were ignoring.

In the second rail section, he transferred over the hitching post with a stylish, tweaked-out indy air before doing a 50-50 to tailslide to 270 out combo on the rail.

On the first jump, he landed a switch backside 1260 on the angled jump, spinning against the natural direction of travel in the air for added difficulty.

On the second jump, he opted to do a double cork off the quarterpipe takeoff instead of the traditional jump that other riders were using.

Then on the final jump, Gerard stomped a clean backside triple cork 1440 to put an exclamation point on his run.

The result: Gerard was rewarded with an 87.16 from the judges, putting him in first place.

But the young snowboarder couldn't rest easy — not with all the sport's heavy hitters still left to go.

First there was Canada's Mark McMorris, who had been sitting in the lead until Gerard bumped him out of the top spot. In an earlier run, McMorris had landed back-to-back triple corks, including a backside triple cork 1620 — one of the highest scoring tricks of the contest — on the finals jump.

But McMorris, who has been a dominant figure in slopestyle for years, went down.

Then came Norway's Marcus Kleveland, the back-to-back X Games champion who had landed a backside 1620 earlier in the contest. He, too, went down.

Finally it was Max Parrot's turn. Parrot, another strong Canadian rider, was the top qualifier in Saturday's preliminary round, and he came out swinging. After slamming on a triple cork attempt on both of his earlier two runs, Parrot finally put down a full run, and though he was one of the day's strongest riders in the rail sections, he fell about one point shy of matching Gerard's score.

When the dust settled, the Canadian duo of Parrot and McMorris — considered by many to be the favorites for gold — were left and silver and bronze.

And the gold belonged to a 17-year-old kid who has maintained a rather nonchalant attitude toward the Olympics.

"I've never really found myself thinking about [the Olympics]," Gerard said when asked about the Olympics last year. "I feel like there's just always so much stuff going around that I want to pay attention to. And [the Olympics] are just far ahead, so whatever."

It was a quote reminiscent of something that you might have heard from Sage Kotsenburg before his surprise Olympic victory four years ago.

Those aren't the only similarities between the two. The way Gerard creatively used the entire course was something that Kotsenburg was known for doing too — back before he retired from competitive snowboarding.

1. Red Gerard (USA), 87.16 2. Max Parrot (CAN), 86.00 3. Mark McMorris (CAN), 85.20 4. Stale Sandbech (NOR), 81.01 5. Carlos Garcia Knight (NZL), 78.60 6. Marcus Kleveland (NOR), 77.76 7. Tyler Nicholson (CAN), 76.41 8. Torgeir Bergrem (NOR), 75.80 9. Niklas Mattsson (SWE), 74.71 10. Seppe Smits (BEL), 69.03 11. Sebastien Toutant (CAN), 61.08 12. Mons Roisland (NOR), DNS

NBCOlympics.com will be streaming every round of every competition live online. Here's how to watch all upcoming live streams for snowboard slopestyle and halfpipe.

Women's Slopestyle Qualifying: Sat 2/10, 11:30 p.m. ET LIVE STREAM

Women's Slopestyle Final: Sun 2/11, 8:00 p.m. ET LIVE STREAM

Women's Halfpipe Qualifying: Sun 2/11, 11:30 p.m. ETLIVE STREAM

Women's Halfpipe Final: Mon 2/12, 8:00 p.m. ETLIVE STREAM

Men's Halfpipe Qualifying: Mon 2/12, 11:00 p.m. ETLIVE STREAM

Men's Halfpipe Final: Tues 2/13, 8:30 p.m. ETLIVE STREAM

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