Red Gerard qualifies for first U.S. Olympic snowboard team
Red Gerard is heading to his first Olympics.
The 17-year-old won the snowboard slopestyle contest at the U.S. Grand Prix at Snowmass on Friday, an event that was the fourth of five qualifiers for the U.S. Olympic slopestyle and big air team.
Gerard also won the first qualifier, which was held last winter, and was able to secure his spot on the team for PyeongChang with his result at Snowmass.
For the second time this week, weather impacted the contest. Due to snowfall, the finals were delayed by about an hour, and the third and final jump had to be eliminated. Earlier this week, qualifiers were called after the first set of runs due to fog.
The change to the course left the riders with only two rails and two jumps, making each feature even more important.
Gerard certainly made his two jumps count, landing a switch backside 1260 and a backside triple cork 1440 in his second run. Those tricks earned two of the contest's highest individual trick scores.
Japan's Hiroaki Kunitake, a 15-year-old and the only other rider to land a triple cork in this contest, took second place and Tiarn Collins of New Zealand was third.
Sochi Olympian Ryan Stassel finished seventh and Chandler Hunt was eighth. No other Americans reached the men's final.
Gerard, who grew up training in his backyard on a terrain park he and his family built, is the second rider to confirm his nomination to the Olympic team for men's slopestyle and big air. He joins Chris Corning, who qualified for the team last month.
Up to four men will be named to the team. A third rider will automatically qualify for the team after next week's final selection event at Mammoth, and a fourth rider will likely be named to the team as a discretionary pick shortly thereafter.
New Zealand's Christy Prior won the women's slopestyle competition at Snowmass, finishing ahead of Japan's Reira Iwabuchi and Australia's Tess Coady.
Iwabuchi, who recently turned 16 years old, won a big air contest at Copper Mountain last month and is on the rise as the Olympics approach.
The only U.S. women to make the final were 2014 Olympians Jessika Jenson and Ty Walker. Jenson was fifth and Walker was seventh. Although they both earned valuable U.S. qualifying points just by making the final, neither one has a podium finish yet, which means they haven't met the minimum criteria needed for automatic nomination.
Sochi Olympic champion Jamie Anderson has already secured her nomination onto the women's slopestyle and big air team. Julia Marino and Hailey Langland still hold the edge in qualifying for the other two automatic spots, but Jenson and Walker could potentially usurp them at the final selection event.
Next week's qualifier at Mammoth will determine which two women automatically qualify for the team; the others will have to wait and see who receives the fourth and final spot, which will be at the discretion of the coaches.
U.S. Grand Prix at Snowmass Results
Men's snowboard slopestyle
1. Red Gerard (USA), 87.28
2. Hiroaki Kunitake (JPN), 83.64
3. Tiarn Collins (NZL), 83.57
4. Rene Rinnekangas (FIN), 79.80
5. Niklas Mattsson (SWE), 79.18
Women's snowboard slopestyle
1. Christy Prior (NZL), 77.06
2. Reira Iwabuchi (JPN), 76.48
3. Tess Coady (AUS), 75.42
4. Jasmine Baird (CAN), 72.14
5. Jessika Jenson (USA), 64.16
U.S. Qualifying Standings
After 4 of 5 events
Mens' snowboard slopestyle/big air
1-T. Chris Corning, 2000* (QUALIFIED)
1-T. Red Gerard, 2000* (QUALIFIED)
3. Chandler Hunt, 1400*
4. Ryan Stassel, 1400
5. Judd Henkes, 1100
6. Kyle Mack, 1000*
7. Brock Crouch, 950
8. Eric Willett, 900
9. Nik Baden, 900
10. Dylan Thomas, 800*
11. Brandon Davis, 800
Women's snowboard slopestyle/big air
1. Jamie Anderson, 2000* (QUALIFIED)
2. Julia Marino, 1600*
3. Hailey Langland, 1600*
4. Jessika Jenson, 1600
5. Ty Walker, 1300
6. Hailee Soderholm, 920
*Has met minimum criteria of one top-three finish