17-Year-Old Snowboarder Gives Team USA First Gold Medal

In the men’s snowboard slopestyle event that was expected to be ruled by Canada and Norway, an upset came on Sunday morning when 17-year-old American Red Gerard – all 5 feet 5 inches and 115 pounds of him – blew his competition away and won Olympic gold for the first time. It was not only his first Olympic medal, but also the first medal for Team USA at the PyeongChang Winter Games. Gerard also becomes the youngest Olympian ever to win gold in a snowboarding event.

Gerard’s slopestyle run focused on unique moves on jump and rail sections that his competitors largely ignored. He successfully landed a switch backslide 1260 on an angled kicker. After that, he did a double cork spin, which isn’t in itself unusual, but he chose to do the spin from the left quarter pipe, whereas most boarders use the center path. His third feat was a triple cork 1440.

His score was 87.16 points, which took the first spot away from Canadian Mark McMorris. McMorris’ teammate Max Parrot, scored a total of 86, which pushed McMorris into third. Scoring works this way: Each competitor has three tries on the course and is scored by the judges using the best score of the three.

It was reported that Gerard thought taking risks in his final runs are what made the difference between the results he posted and those of Max Parrot.