PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – Before 11:30 a.m. local time, the most precious metal grasped by a member of the Gerard family on Sunday was aluminum. Around their clan 18 strong was the detritus of a morning well-spent: emptied-and-crushed cans of Cass Light, Fitz and even a Budweiser, consumed to ease their nerves and celebrate their fortunes. Atop the slopestyle course at Phoenix Snow Park stood Red Gerard, the 17-year-old waif, their son, brother and cousin. Soon enough, he would add to that list another title: American Olympic star.
To the Gerards, all of this felt positively preordained, that those days watching him trundle down a hill as a 2-year-old or shred at 6 or hit magazines at 10 or bop around the rails in his backyard course at 13 were pieces of a prophecy. That he was special. Which is an unkind anchor to hang on any kid, though Red Gerard, who is a lot of things, is not just any kid.
He is a free spirit and an inveterate flirt and a bit of a weasel on the snow, snaking his 5-foot-5, 115-pound frame in and around those who dare to share it with him. And now he is an Olympic gold medalist, too, disregarding a blundered pair of runs to stomp his third and final try and take home the United States’ first medal of the PyeongChang Games.