Take 5: Slopestyle youngster Red Gerard at the 2016 Burton U.S. Open
Burton U.S. Open schedule
March 2 — Men’s and women’s slopestyle semi-finals, 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
March 3 — Men’s and women’s halfpipe semi-finals, 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
March 4 — Men’s and women’s slopestyle finals, 11:20 p.m. and 2 p.m.
March 5 — Men’s and women’s halfpipe finals, 11:20 p.m. and 2 p.m.
All events are free and open to the public, held in the terrain park at Golden Peak. For more info, including a complete schedule with music and outside events, see events.burton.com/burton-us-open.
When Red Gerard invites Transworld Snowboarding to his backyard in Silverthorne, the magazine shows up with photographers, videographers and pros in tow.
Starting last winter, Red’s yard blew up on Instagram when he, several pros and his brothers got together for sundown sessions on the hand-built features found high, high above town at Ptarmigan Ridge. The group went crazy on flat rails, up rails, kickers and more, using a Honda 50cc engine attached to a towrope for speed and a bonfire fueled by wood pallets for lighting. Local legend Chad Otterstrom brought a few stand lights for the dusk photo shoot, but nothing too posh. Just Summit County riding, no pass required.
The wild-and-wooly backyard sessions, tagged as @redsbackyard, document a day in the life of a teenage pro on the rise. Now 15 years old, Red (full name Redmond) moved with his family from Cleveland to Colorado before preschool. At 10 years old, he was invited to join the Burton global team and has hardly slowed down since. He’s a self-taught rider and the sixth of seven (yes, seven) siblings, all of whom are just as creative and talented and off-kilter as he is, like older brother Brendan Gerard, who’s currently filming snowboard segments in Europe with Absinthe Films, and older sister Tieghan, whose baking blog, Half Baked Harvest, regularly tops the Better Homes and Gardens best-of list and sees 80,000 viewers daily.
“He would never be anywhere he is today without his brothers,” said Red’s mother, Jen. “They are they ones who got him on a snowboard at 2 (years old), they’re the ones who always pushed him, they were the ones who said, ‘He’s getting really good and needs to compete.’”
It hasn’t taken Red long to catch up with his siblings and carve a niche in the pro snowboard circuit. He’s now in the thick of a breakthrough season: he placed fifth in December at his first Dew Tour slopestyle, then placed 14 out of 35 in February during his first trip to Pyeongchang, South Korea, home of the 2018 Winter Olympics. Today in Vail, he drops into the slopestyle course on Golden Peak for his first Burton U.S. Open, one of the last marquee competitions made only for snowboarders.
After training runs in Vail on a flat-light day, the Summit Daily Sports desk caught up with Red for a talk about his season, his first U.S. Open invite and why creativity is the soul of snowboarding, from Golden Peak to a backyard kicker.
Summit Daily News: You had a chance to check out the U.S. Open course on Monday. How’s it looking for today’s qualifier?
Red Gerard: It’s looking really good, honestly. It’s one of the best courses I’ve hit. I know I’ve said that a lot this year, but this really is a fun one to hit. It’s creative.
SDN: Do you have a favorite feature yet?
RG: I like the fourth feature, the jump. On the side of the jump is a quarterpipe wall (made) to air off the quarterpipe into the landing of the jump. I’ve always liked halfpipes so I like it when they can get those features in a slope course. I think that’s how it always should be: including every element of snowboarding on a course.
SDN: Is there anything wild and crazy out there?
RG: There’s noting that’s too crazy. It’s definitely a creative course, but I just came from Korea and that course was wild. It was in Pyeongchang for a World Cup, a test event for the Olympics. It was super fun. We only had two days to practice on it, which was kind of a bummer because it would have been sweet to get another five or six days. Then we really could have had fun on that course. When you go to a contest and see the same three jumps and rails it can be boring. But there, or here (in Vail), where you have this wall into a quarterpipe transition, it can be fun.
SDN: Talk me through your U.S. Open run. What tricks will you have to set you apart from everyone?
RG: (Pause.) I’m not sure what I’ll do yet. I was just testing out. We’ll have to see. I don’t have much new stuff, but right now on the jumps I want to have a front 1260 to back 1260 to cab 1080. I would be really hyped if I could get that. When it comes to style I’m just having the best time on this course. I’m really enjoying it.
SDN: The U.S. Open is one of the last big events that’s only for snowboarding. As a rider, does that change how it feels? Like, is it different than Dew Tour?
RG: It definitely is weird when you don’t see any skiers during practice. You think, ‘I wonder where the skiers are?’ Then you remember that there aren’t any skiers here. I guess it’s a little less crowded.
SDN: Do you think that changes the course? Or is there no such thing as a skier course and snowboarder course in slopestyle now — they’re all pretty similar?
RG: Yeah, like what you just said. There’s really no difference for skiers or snowboarders, just creativity.
SDN: You did well this year at your first Dew Tour and barely missed the podium. What did you like about riding and competing at your home mountain?
RG: It was exciting to do that. It was great to have my whole family there, out at my home mountain that I ride every day. My brother moved out when he was young to go to a snowboarding school and then my parents came and liked it, so we followed, but I never knew I would be snowboarding (at Dew Tour). It was awesome when I landed my last run. My parents were there, my brother was there — everything. It was very exciting.
SDN: What comes after the U.S. Open for you?
RG: I go to China on March 6 for a competition, then after that I’m basically done. Last year I went to the same place in China (Yabuli Ski Resort) and took fourth. I was happy with how it went. I’ll be doing some filming too, filming for the new Transworld movie. I’m not sure yet what that will be, but we’ll see. I don’t think it will be too much park stuff. Hopefully they take me into the backcountry, or maybe film some street. That would be cool.
SDN: And what comes after winter? Even more filming? A spot on the Olympic team?
RG: I definitely want to do more filming. I try not to worry about the Olympics and stuff. There’s nothing you can do but try your hardest. If it goes that way, it goes that way.
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