Red Gerard brings a ‘you get out what you put in’ mentality into new backcountry, contest season
At Mountain Dew Snow Dance, Red chats inspiration behind new 'Red's Backyard' parks
BRECKENRIDGE – After the season, after his 2018 Olympic gold medal stardom, Red Gerard has settled into a balance and harmony between backcountry and contest snowboarding — between personal life and business life.
At the core, Red has succeeded in what is the ultimate snowboarder’s dream: making your business life symbiotic with personal interests. Over breakfast at Breckenridge Ski Resort during Mountain Dew’s Snow Dance event on Saturday, Red spoke to the latest projects as examples of that healthy and happy work-life balance as well as the lessons he learned in the last year
When you consider several variables, one can make the argument Red accomplished more and grew more in 2018-19 than in 2017-18. Even considering the fact that in 2018 Red, at the age of 17, became the youngest ever American male to win a gold medal at an individual event in Winter Olympics history.
Now 19, Red is most proud of the “Red’s Backyard” hike-to-jib park concept that will open later this winter at several Woodward locations at POWDR resort’s, including at Woodward Copper at Copper Mountain Resort.
The idea is one that came from the Gerard family, a fun-loving and humble cast of seven siblings, father Conrad and mother Jen. Red said it was Jen who worked with him on the Red’s Backyard idea, as the Summit County-based family felt it’d be cool to bring the spirit of the family’s actual backyard rail lines on the slope of Ptarmagin Peak near Silverthorne to the public in a simple, fun hangout zone at a lower cost than daunting $200 lift tickets.
At the top of the park, snowboarders and skiers will be able to store their backpack, grab a rake and be part of the park’s community.
“Maybe you’re not making them massive,” Red said of the Red’s Backyard idea, “maybe you’re not making them for professionals. You’re making them for kids so it’s appealing. And that’s my biggest thing. That’s why we started the Red’s Backyard thing: we’re trying to make it appealing to everyone else.
“We’re trying to base it off basically the actual backyard, just better, obviously,” Red added. “All of our (homemade) rails are horse fences and stuff and pretty sketchy. But all of the rails at Copper and Killington and Park City are going to be real rails, all painted red, and stuff. The main three rails will be a down bar, a drop-drop-drop rail and an up rail.”
As for the actual Gerard backyard, Red said the small dirt lips he, his brothers and their pro snowboarder friends build each season benefited from Conrad getting his hands on a tractor over the summer. In recent days, Red said his older brother and snowboard filmmaker Kai and their good friend and pro snowboarder Nik Baden of Steamboat Springs have been putting in work to get the backyard ready to ride. They did so for the first time Friday.
For Baden, it was his turn to help put work into the backyard. In past years, close friends of the Gerard family, like Olympic silver medalist Kyle Mack, have been tasked with manicuring the snow to be ready to ride off of the old moto-bike-engine-powered rope tow.
Last year, Red took the work that goes into his backyard to a much bigger playground: the backcountry. Red’s work and riding in the backcountry is showcased in the new film “Joy,” which was first pitched to him as a movie where three Olympic medalists — including Sage Kotsenburg and Ben Ferguson — take their terrain park skills to natural slopes.
But once the trio was out in the wilderness, Red said he never really thought about that Olympic connection. At heart, they were three friends having fun building jumps and landing tricks in the backcountry. And if there’s anything he learned from his Olympic slopestyle gold-medalist elder Kotsenburg and his longtime friend Ferguson, it was “you get out what you put in.”
“That was their quote,” Red said. “I could tell Sage had at the beginning of the year this look in his eye where he was going to make a good (film) part. But I had no clue it was going to be that good. Ben and Sage, they completely went nuts in that movie and had nothing but focus. ‘You get out what you put in.’ That’s so true. It was really inspiring to watch.
“There was so much of a learning experience,” Red added of last winter, “and I’m honestly just psyched for this season.”
As for this season, Red said his championship at last year’s Burton U.S. Open was proof positive that backcountry riding for “Joy” helped his competition riding in terms of style and creativity. He said he now looks at features different on a slopestyle course.
He’ll be competing in big air this year, though slopestyle is his preferred discipline. And he still loves contest riding as much as ever despite the occasionally exhausting media attention and pressure of the U.S. contest scene. But he’ll still be spending time in the backcountry, as he said another film is in the works to be released around this time next year.
If time in the backcountry taught him anything, it was the value of building the foundation for the eventual glory.
“Sometimes it’s like ‘the grass is always greener,'” Red said. “I’m in contests (thinking), ‘I wish I was filming right now.’ And then when I’m doing backcountry snowboarding it’s, ‘I wish I was doing a contest right now.’ I don’t know, it’s really cool when you do get a good trick out of the backcountry snowboarding just because it’s like, you built that jump for 10 hours, a day, two days — whatever it is. And for you to walk away from that jump with a trick is something nice.
“That’s your jump,” Red continued. “You did that. You built that. You earned that trick.”
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