Is Olympic snowboarder Red Gerard America’s next Shaun White?

Published February 2, 2018

COLLAGE BY MAXWELL N. BURNSTEIN.

In the lead up to the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang on February 8, 2018, we will be introducing 10 young athletes who will be stealing America’s hearts and standing on the podium.

Red Gerard is the fresh-faced Olympian poised to be the next great snowboarder—that is, if he isn’t already. With sponsors heavily backing the 17-year-old as a podium hopeful, there’s already a lot riding on his slender shoulders.

Preparing for competition seems secondary to Gerard, who just snowboards out of a sheer passion for the sport. The Park City, Colorado native uses his family’s backyard for off-season training as a makeshift snow park. Following in the trails of his brothers (he’s one of seven siblings), Gerard’s ambition to keep up drove him to become the best boarder of the bunch.

Playing to Gerard’s carefree strength in executing tricks across rails, slides and jumps, it’ll be the “Big Air” event—a purpose-built ramp 49 meters in length with a slope of 40 degrees—introduced at PyeongChang that drives audiences to see boarders like Red flaunt their aerial tricks. It’s the perfect opportunity to face off against his idols like Kelly Clark, Jamie Anderson to White himself who are all vying for the same spots on the podium.

Snowboarding is a lifestyle…

Because I have a pretty good friend group who do it and it’s something I’m pretty into. It’s just fun, and what keeps me going.

My upbringing was…

Wild. I’m part of a really big family.

I look to my brothers for…

Advice most of all. They kind of do everything for me including slapping me around when I get too cocky! They’re parents to me.

The U.S. qualifying events for slopestyle…

Started in Mammoth Mountain, which was great as I ended up winning it, which really set me up. The second one was in Copper, then on the Dew Tour at Breckenridge.

Placing at these competitions has been…

Good, I just look for a consist result and to land in my runs. As long as I land my run I’m pretty happy with myself.

Performing in a Big Air event is…

Not my favorite, I prefer slopestyle. It’s one jump and you do tricks.

Slopestyle is about…

Multiple jumps and rails, which brings creativity. You can choose your own lines through the course, and I really like. The more snowboarding has come along from doing flips and spins where you can’t keep track of it, you have the opportunity to take different lines in the course and get progressive scores for it.

The atmosphere at competitions is…

Pretty stressful, but the practices are awesome because you’re doing your best tricks, pushing yourself and riding with all your homies; which is awesome and what I like about contests.

At the Olympics I’m going to…

Have fun. I don’t think there is a need to look at it as something bigger.

Competing against heavyweights…

Is so cool because you can see how they take the whole contest vibe and what they’re like at the top, getting into these bigger contests … and seeing how they operate.

My attitude going into these Games…

Is “whatever.” I have the same attitude going into every contest. It’s all the same. The only thing I try to do is get on my snowboard more, because I realize the more I get into these bigger contests you don’t snowboard as much because you spend so much time travelling.

After the games…

I will start to film a lot more and see what I can do. I plan to take a bit of time off from contests.

 

LEARN MORE AT TEAMUSA.ORG. THE WINTER OLYMPICS BEGIN LIVE ON FEBRUARY 8. THE PARALYMPICS START ON MARCH 9.