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For the second Winter Olympics in a row, a snowboarder has earned the U.S. its first medal.
Red Gerard, a 17-year-old from Colorado, was in last place before the third and final run of the men’s slopestyle competition, before upsetting the field. Up to that point, Gerard had failed to land a clean run.
Gerard’s third run was a different story. The snowboarder put on, arguably, the most creative display of the competition, utilizing parts of the course that none of his competitors were taking advantage of.
After three technically-challenging and clean jumps, Gerard was awarded a score of 87.16, good enough for first place. However, it was still too early in the round to rest easy. Many of the world’s best had yet to take their runs.
First, Canada’s Mark McMorris, the leader through the first two rounds, fell on his final run.
Then, back-to-back X Games champion Marcus Kleveland of Norway took his final run. He also went down.
Finally, Canada’s Max Parrot, the top qualifier in the preliminary round, put on an impressive display for his final run – finally hitting the trick that had eluded him in previous rounds. It was close, but, Parrot’s third-round score fell just about a point short of Gerard’s.
In the end, Parrot and McMorris, favorites for the top two spots, took silver and bronze. The 17-year-old from Colorado was the first to bring home U.S. gold, or a medal of any kind.
Gerard’s path to the Olympics started at home. After his family moved from Cleveland to Colorado, they built a rail park in their backyard for Gerard and his brothers. It was there that he developed some of his more technical tricks.
Gerard had an estimated 18 people in his Olympic entourage cheering him on, slope side, in PyeongChang.
Gerard is now the youngest Olympic snowboarding champion ever and the first athlete born in the 2000s to medal at a Winter Olympics.
Here are the final scores for men’s slopestyle:
- Red Gerard (USA), 87.16 [Gold]
- Max Parrot (CAN), 86.00 [Silver]
- Mark McMorris (CAN), 85.204 [Bronze]
- Stale Sandbech (NOR), 81.015
- Carlos Garcia Knight (NZL), 78.606
- Marcus Kleveland (NOR), 77.767
- Tyler Nicholson (CAN), 76.418
- Torgeir Bergrem (NOR), 75.809
- Niklas Mattsson (SWE), 74.7110
- Seppe Smits (BEL), 69.0311
- Sebastien Toutant (CAN), 61.0812
- Mons Roisland (NOR), DNS