Red Gerard nearly snags first X Games medal after ‘best run of life’
Red Gerard nearly won his first X Games gold medal of his young and illustrious career on Saturday, competing differently and in a daring fashion amid a loaded group of slopestyle competitors.
In the moment, Gerard described to Breckenridge local and X Games reporter Jonathan “DC” Oetken that his second run through the slopestyle course at Buttermilk Mountain in Aspen was the best of his life. The 18-year-old Summit County snowboarder earned a 90.33 for a line that was alternative to each of those other competitors, as he carved over to and landed off of the course’s side-hit, quarter-pipe jumps.
The run earned Gerard a score of 90.33, higher than his 87.16 score when he won last February’s Winter Olympic slopestyle competition in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
In the end, Gerard’s 90.33 earned him a fifth-place finish, behind champion Mark McMorris of Canada (96.00), silver medalist Rene Rinnekangas of Finland (94.00), bronze medalist Mons Roisland of Norway (91.33) and Canadian rider Sebastien Toutant (90.66).
Until the end, though, it appeared as if Gerard may become the country’s first men’s snowboard slopestyle medalist at an X Games since American legend Shaun White won the contest in 2013.
Gerard gained confidence early, keeping speed and composure and landing a full run through the course that featured three rail sections and three jumps.
On his first run, Gerard executed a creative take on the rails featuring a switch boardslide through a tricky down-flat-down rail high up on the course. He then showcased his technical rail-riding ability when he pulled back the landing on his switch-backside 270-degree rotation off of an ensuing rail. Following a boardslide pretzel, Gerard took to that first quarter-pipe on the first jump, landing a switch-backside 900 before capping the jump section with a backside triple-cork 1440, which required three inversions on his vertical axis and four, full 360-degree rotations.
After that run earned an 82.33, placing him outside of podium position, Gerard dialed in his second line through the course. He again made that technical rail run look casual before he stepped up his take on that first quarter-pipe with a switch backside 1260. Again capping the run with a backside triple-cork 1440, Gerard was rewarded by the judges with a score of 90.33. The score jumped Gerard from outside podium position to second place behind Roisland, who took hold of the competition early with a first-place run after his first run.
Gerard entered his third run, though, outside of podium position after Canadian Sebastien Toutant spring-boarded up into podium position and after Finnish snowboarder Rene Rinnekangas took over the top spot with a score of 94.00 on his third and final run. Rinnekangas’ run featured a frontside 1440 and a backside 1620 with a melon grab. McMorris then stole the show and put an exclamation point on the competition with a run that featured a massive gap-over on the first rail feature and a clean line through the rest of the course before he capped the jumps with a backside, triple-cork 1620.
Gerard was the highest scoring American in the contest, ahead of the youngest snowboarder in the competition, 17-year-old Judd Henkes of La Jolla, California (85.33).Corning targets Park City World Champs
Two riders who qualified from Friday’s elimination round, Japanese daredevil Yuki Kadono and Silverthorne’s Chris Corning, did not compete due to injuries suffered on Friday.
Corning was forced out of the competition due to a reaggravation of a lingering injury to his left foot. The injury occurred when Corning attempted his quad-cork 1800 in the middle of Friday evening’s big air competition at Buttermilk. Corning said Saturday morning that he reaggravated the injury to his left foot when he attempted to land the quad cork, a move that sees him invert on his vertical axis four times while rotating for five, full 360-degree rotations.
On the landing, Corning’s front binding on his right foot unbuckled as the 19-year-old rider fell to the snow. Corning took one more jump down the big air course, but pulled up in mid-air stories above the Buttermilk snow on that next attempt. Corning said he decided mid-air not to attempt a trick because, on the take off, he felt the pain in his left foot and didn’t have enough power in his foot to execute and land a trick.
Corning said he thinks the injury is a sprain to his left foot. He said the injury shouldn’t prevent him from competing at the International Ski & Snowboard Federation’s World Championships in Park City, Utah, which will feature a big air competition on Feb. 5 and a slopestyle competition on Feb. 10.
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