Red Gerard‘s gold medal is damaged. His desire to compete remains in tact.
“The gold medal is, honestly, not doing too good,” Gerard said in a recent interview in New York City.
The 18-year-old snowboarder then unfurled the medal from his pocket and pointed to an adorning clip.
“It took a little beating,” he said. “It broke. We’re going to get it fixed.”
Like many Rio Olympic medalists, Gerard said he planned to send his medal off for repairs. It is a historic one.
Nine months ago, the sixth of seven kids from a Colorado snowboarding family became the first American to take gold in PyeongChang. He became the youngest Olympic snowboarding champion and the youngest individual male U.S. Winter Olympic champion. Eighteen family members made their own headlines, partying at the bottom of the slopestyle course.
Gerard was an underdog in South Korea, not just in stature (not quite 5 and a half feet), but by his previous results. He had not made a podium at the X Games or U.S. Open. His two top-level wins came in California and Utah events without the top Canadians and Norwegians in the field.
Really, it was reminiscent of friend Sage Kotsenburg, whose second slopestyle win in nine years came at the event’s Olympic debut in Sochi. Kotsenburg entered seven contests in his follow-up season, according to World Snowboarding, then faded out of competition to focus on making snowboard films, ultimately announcing retirement at age 23 in 2017.
While Gerard also enjoys filming, he plans to carve a different path.
“I love doing contests,” he said, “and I love the exhilaration that you get from them.”
Gerard already competed in New Zealand in September, placing 21st in a big air event. His season begins in earnest in December with the Dew Tour in Breckenridge, Colo., then the X Games in January, world championships in Park City in February, plus the U.S. Open in Vail.
Maybe one of those days will be like the Olympics. Gerard credited his PyeongChang success to the course suiting him. He chose off-path features on the rail and jump sections that others ignored, not winning solely on the back of big tricks.
“Every contest, there’s a different person that wins, for the most part,” he said. “I’m super psyched that it just so happened for me, it was the Olympics.”
Minutes after winning in PyeongChang, Gerard said he didn’t know about 2022. He only knew that he wanted to do snowboard filming.
“I 100 percent want to go into 2022,” he said last month. “Definitely that’s on my list. But also filming is one step ahead for me right now. Filming is always something I’ve had a passion for. That’s my goal for next year, then after that I’ll go back to contests and focus more on that.”
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