Red Gerard takes flight – then comes back to the Olympics

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PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — For Red Gerard, “big air” has less to do with vaulting himself off the snowboarding jump, more to do with the journey he’s been on since he became an Olympic gold medalist.

The surprise champion has logged some 18,000 airline miles on a post-victory tour that took him from Pyeongchang to Los Angeles to New York, and now, back to South Korea. Ten days after his victory on the slopestyle course, Gerard returned to the snow Wednesday, where he qualified for the final of the big air contest — the newest, highest-flying snowboarding event at the games.

NBCOlympics.com: Three Americans, including Red Gerard, reach men’s big air final

“I slowly, definitely figured out what was coming with it all,” Gerard said of the spoils of being an Olympic champion. “But I had no clue what was going to happen because I never really saw myself winning a gold medal.”

But he surrounded himself with people who did.

They had a victory plan all along.

And so, Gerard went on “The Jimmy Kimmel Show,” sat with Kelly and Ryan, interviewed on “CBS This Morning.” There was a photo shoot with “People.” A video interview with “Time.” A big spread with “Sports Illustrated.” The list goes on. His agent, Ryan Runke, can barely keep up with all the phone calls. Sponsorship and media opportunities are flooding in, and the mission isn’t so much about grabbing everything he can, but finding the right fit.

Click here to read the full story and watch live streams of the men’s big air final