Silverthorne’s Red Gerard wins Burton US Open slopestyle title
Red Gerard celebrated at the top of the Burton US Open Snowboarding Championships slopestyle course in Vail on Friday before his third and final run — a victory lap with first place already locked up. He was then tackled at the bottom by the rest of the field in congratulations.
Thanks to someone helping his mom Jen up and over the fence to celebrate, it was a family affair.
“I don’t really know,” Gerard said of what happened in the moment. “I was under it all, but thanks to whoever helped get my mom over.”
While the rest of the field was dropping in on their final runs, the Silverthorne snowboarder waited at the top as the last to drop, choosing to meander around the nearby trees instead of hanging out in the athlete tent.
“I don’t know what I was doing. I was just pacing back and forth waiting for my turn to go,” he said. “I had a song on my phone playing.”
That song was “Middle Child” by J. Cole, on repeat.
Previously, the 2018 Olympic slopestyle gold medalist’s best finish at the Burton U.S. Open was fifth in 2016. Last year he didn’t qualify out of the semifinal round just weeks after rocketing to instant Olympic superstardom. Friday was Gerard’s first podium finish since that Olympic gold medal win in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
All week, Gerard’s Instagram feed has been full of videos of him ripping apart the terrain park at Golden Peak. He won the men’s slopestyle finals with a score of 80.55, his score from the first of three rounds.
“I feel insane, it’s crazy,” Gerard said from the finish area. “I never expected that I’d be in the finals at the Open. To win one … I’m speechless.”
The exclamation point on his championship-winning first run was a triple-cork 1440, a trick that requires a rider to rotate for four full 360-degree horizontal rotations toward their board’s back side while inverting threes times on a vertical axis.
Moments earlier, at the top of the Golden Peak slopestyle course, Gerard began the rails portion of the competition with a boardslide to frontside to boardslide to fakie. He then executed a half-cab 50-50 onto the second rail feature leading to landing a backside 360 with a melon grab off of it. Gerard kept full-throttle speed heading into the third rail feature, as he Indy flipped for 450 degrees off of a boardslide to lead into the jumps.
On the jumps portion, Gerard hucked a switch-backside 1260 with a mute grab. Then, on the penultimate side-hit transition jump, Gerard landed a frontside double-cork 1080 with a mute grab to lead into the triple cork 1440 on the money booter.
The win was especially gratifying for the 18-year-old, redemption somewhat, after he failed to qualify out of the semifinal round at last year’s Burton U.S. Open just weeks after the Pyeongchang Olympics.
About an hour later, on his celebratory victory lap, Gerard got sendy in the rails and jumps portion of the course, launching and landing a huge final stylish trick on the booter jump before he was mobbed by family and friends in the corral. It was a football-like dogpile at the bottom of the course in that raucous moment, as Gerard’s good friends and fellow competitors such as Darcy Sharpe, Lyon Farrell and Brock Crouch mobbed him. Once they let him up, Gerard hugged his younger sister Asher and mother Jen before he was interviewed by Burton Open broadcast reporter and snowboarding legend Louie Vito.
Sven Thorgren of Sweden finished second with a score of 79.60 while Canadian star and defending Burton Open slopestyle champ Mark McMorris finished third with a score of 79.2.
For McMorris, a regular on the podium and four-time Burton US Open slopestyle champ, a third-place finish is just fine.
He threw down on his third and final run, with third place already locked down, but was unable to surpass Gerard or Thorgren. McMorris suffered a career-threatening injury in the backcountry in 2017 and has made a remarkable return to the sport.
“A lot of people go their whole careers trying to get on the podium, so I have to remind myself of that,” he said. “And I’m super thankful just to be snowboarding still.”
With Gerard showing some nerves, McMorris said he knew exactly what the younger snowboarder was going through out there.
“It’s a good feeling to be in first and watching everybody go, but it’s nerve-wracking at the same time, so I know what Red was going through,” he said.
In between his meditation in the trees listening to J. Cole, Gerard stopped to talk to Thorgren.
“It’s funny,” Thorgren said. “I was talking to Red before his last run, he said, ‘Dude, I’m so nervous.’”
According to McMorris, the nerves never go away. But how these snowboarders deal with the nerves is what separates them from the pack.
“I think we all go through the same emotions before a run where your legs feel like they’re not going to work and feel like jelly,” McMorris said.
Summit Daily Sports & Outdoors editor Antonio Olivero contributed.
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