The Untold Truth Of Olympic Snowboarder Red Gerard

With teenage irreverence and a breathtaking performance, Red Gerard took the world of snowboarding by storm. When he was only 17 years old, he seemingly came from nowhere, winning gold in the slopestyle snowboarding competition at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, per U.S. Ski and Snowboard. Snowboarding fans now eagerly await Gerard's return to Olympic competition, hoping for a repeat performance from the young star at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, scheduled to begin February 4 in Beijing, China.

Gerard's fame skyrocketed following his 2018 success at the Pyeongchang games, followed up with championship outings at the 2019 Mammoth Grand Prix in California and the Burton U.S. Open. Prior to his first Olympics appearance, he'd already shown incredible promise with respectable top 5 finishes at a number of snowboarding's most elite competitions. Trophies aside, there's still much to learn about this ascendant superstar in the world of winter sports, competing in the Beijing Games at the age of only 22 years old.

He overslept

The story swept through the media in the aftermath of the 2018 Pyeongchang games: Red Gerard almost overslept the morning of his first slopestyle Olympic competition, nearly missing the event after a long night. What's more, it was also said Gerard misplaced his jacket, borrowing his roommate's. Despite that rocky start, Gerard would go on to take the field and win gold in the day's event. The story solidified Gerard's reputation as a rebellious teenager. Problem being, the story is only partially true, as Gerard revealed on the official Olympics website.

According to Gerard, he overslept a little, and he did borrow his roommate's jacket, but otherwise, the morning went much like any other competition day for the young athlete. "We've all heard the stories: I woke up late, lost the jacket, et cetera, et cetera," he said. Although he admits hitting snooze a few times, he was not late, and "the rest of the morning went like any contest day," Gerard said. "Warm up, know my run, and just try to land. It worked real good on my last run, and that's still the most surreal feeling I have ever had."

His own snowboarding park

Born in Westlake, Ohio, in the year 2000 but raised in Silverthorne, Colorado, Red Gerard began snowboarding when he was only 2 years old, per Team USA. Helping Gerard excel at this sport was a DIY rail park on his parent's Colorado property, consisting of a pretty small hill with only a few good features on it, Gerard told 5280, Denver's Mile High Magazine. Nevertheless, that backyard training opportunity gave Gerard a significant advantage in the 2018 Pyeongchang games. To give back to the Silverthorne community, he opened Red's Backyard at nearby Copper Mountain Ski Resort in 2019.

Inspired by his childhood private rail park, Red's Backyard offers a selection of 12 rotating features, with everything from frame rails to battleship rails, among many others. There's also a creeper ledge, down tube, and a waterfall rail. In total, Red's Backyard is roughly the same size as a football field. Compared to his childhood backyard rail park, "Copper is going to be a lot longer with actual rails, snowboard rails — not horse fences and all that — so I think it's going to ride a lot smoother," he said. When he's in Silverthorne, he continued, "I would love to come over, throw out some product and stuff. You know, just ride or whatever."

The youngest American to medal in snowboarding

Winning an Olympic gold medal in any sort of competition is incredible enough, but Red Gerard's accomplishments carry further distinction due to how young he was when he did it. With his first place finish in South Korea, Gerard became the youngest Olympian to win a gold medal in snowboarding since the sport debuted in 1998, per Team USA. Also, according to the Olympics website, Gerard was also the youngest male Olympian to win gold in almost a century.

Furthermore, Gerard's 2018 Winter Games win was the first medal for Team USA, after he qualified for the games with a near flawless performance in slopestyle snowboarding at the qualifying event, per FOX 8. On the honor of winning an Olympic gold, Gerard told the Olympic website, "Pyeongchang was an incredible opportunity to see the world stage and come together with my team to progress snowboarding and represent the U.S."

The first Olympic medalist born after this date

Red Gerard's 2018 Olympic success carries one further distinction: He is also the first athlete born on or after the year 2000 to ever win gold. Think that means he belongs to the Millennial generation? Think again. According to Beresford Research, Gerard's birthdate makes him squarely Gen Z, a term used to describe those born anywhere from 1997 to 2012. This puts Gerard's accomplishment alongside the likes of Billie Eilish, who became the first recording artist born after the year 2000 to earn a Billboard No. 1 album (via CNN).

In 2020, Men's Health talked to Gerard about his generational views on the subjects of competition and training. "When I was 17, I was such a punk-ass, honestly," he said, referring to his 2018 performance. "I really, to be honest, had no clue why the Olympics had so much hype around them." Otherwise, he urged those interested in following his example to pursue a number of athletic pursuits, and among other tips, to forgive themselves for being bad at first. More than anything, Gerard said to stay humble. "Truthfully, I would not give advice to anyone older than me. I look to older guys to give me advice!" he said.

A famous sister

Red Gerard is not the only member of the family to find success. His sister, Tieghan Gerard, is a well-known food and fashion writer and bestselling cookbook author with Half Baked Harvest, a Gerard family business, founded in 2012. With an estimated 3.6 million Instagram followers, a New York Times bestselling cookbook, and another one on the way for 2022, Tieghan Gerard — along with her parents and seven other siblings — took time out to root for her brother back in 2018.

"I really didn't care what [position] Red ended up taking," Tieghan recalled to the official Olympics website. "Obviously, first would be amazing, but he had already accomplished what he came there to do. He put down a kick ass run. He did his best. But guys? That kick ass run held the top position all the way through, and Red won gold!" Let's hope Gerard has further reason to cheer for her talented brother when the 2022 Winter Olympic Games start February 4 in Beijing.