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12 February 2018, 12:58 | Stacy Ballard
17-year-old teenager Red Gerard delivered the first medal of the 2018 Olympic Games for the United States, and he did so with a stellar slopestyle run in a do-or-die situation.
Canada's Max Parrot reacts after completing his run in the men's slopestyle finals at Phoenix Snow Park in Pyeongchang, South Korea on February 11, 2018.
Gerard, 17, was propping up the competition coming into his third and final run, but having struggled for speed in runs one and two, strung together a jaw-dropping combination of tricks that culminated in an electrifying backside triple cork 1440.
The diminutive Gerard, the second-youngest of seven siblings who grew up in Cleveland, Ohio before moving to Colorado, seemed stunned as he became the youngest Olympic snowboarding champion ever.
Gerard's ability to cope with Olympic pressure could be due to his lack of obsession with winning at the Games. "I can not believe what just happened.That was enough for me just to land a run, so to get first is insane".
Parrot topped qualifying on Saturday, just as he did in Sochi as a 19-year-old before sliding to fifth in the finals.
Redmond Gerard won the gold medal with 87.16 points.
The teenage snowboarder said a year ago that he didn't really think about the Olympics. "But I was very happy to land that second run". "I was able to watch Mark [McMorris, a fellow Canadian snowboarder] land the most hard run of the day, but it wasn't clean, and he was scored really low because of it". He said, oh, whatever, X Games is a bigger deal to me.
McMorris, a 2014 Olympic bronze medallist and the biggest name of Canada's contingent, held a brief lead in the heats until Parrot topped him. Despite the tough conditions, multiple riders landed 1440s and all four riders from the stacked Norwegian and Canadian teams, including top qualifier Max Parrot, recent X Games champ Marcus Kleveland and seven-time X Games victor Mark McMorris, qualified into Sunday's final.
"It does feel a little bit like a win", he said with a smile.
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