Red Gerard is fourth American born in 2000 to qualify for Olympics
Red Gerard, who learned to snowboard in his backyard, is going to the Olympics in slopestyle and big air.
The 17-year-old scored an 87.28 to win for the second time in four U.S. qualifying events and book his spot in PyeongChang on Friday.
Gerard landed a switch backside 1260 and backside triple cork 1440 in his second of three slopestyle runs in Snowmass, Colo.
The start of Friday’s final was delayed by an hour due to weather. The last jump was taken out.
Gerard will be one of at least four athletes to be the first Americans born in the 2000s to compete in the Winter Olympics.
Figure skater Vincent Zhou, short track speed skater Maame Biney and fellow snowboarder Chloe Kim are the other 2000 babies to qualify so far. A few more could join them.
Gerard joined Chris Corning in qualifying for the U.S. Olympic men’s slopestyle and big air team that will end up being either three or four riders.
The third and final automatic qualifier -- decided after next week’s last qualifier -- will likely be one of Sochi Olympian Ryan Stassel, Chandler Hunt, Kyle Mack and Judd Henkes (born in 2001).
Stassel and Hunt were the other two Americans in Friday’s final, finishing seventh and eighth.
In the women’s final Friday, Americans Jessika Jenson and Ty Walker finished fifth and seventh, respectively.
Sochi slopestyle champion Jamie Anderson already qualified for PyeongChang.
Jenson and Walker, a pair of 2014 Olympians, and would-be first-time Olympians Julia Marino and Hailey Langland are in contention for the last two automatic Olympic spots next week.
Gerard is stronger in slopestyle than the new Olympic event of big air.
Competition continues the rest of this weekend with snowboard halfpipe and ski halfpipe and slopestyle. A full preview and broadcast schedule is here.
Gerard, born in 2000, is younger than any previous U.S. Olympic male snowboarder. He is about 5 and a half feet after a recent growth spurt of a few inches. Not even 150 pounds.
He towered above the competition at the first Olympic qualifier last February in Mammoth Mountain, Calif., notching the biggest win of his young career.
Gerard was fifth and seventh at the last two U.S. Opens and 14th at his X Games debut last season. No American finished in the top six at X Games for the first time in at least 15 years.
No U.S. man has made an X Games Aspen podium in slopestyle or big air since 2012, and Sochi Olympic champion Sage Kotsenburg has retired.
None of the Olympic favorites -- Canadians Mark McMorris, Max Parrot and Tyler Nicholson and Norwegians Marcus Kleveland and Ståle Sandbech -- were in Friday’s field.
U.S. Olympic Qualifying Standings
Snowboard Big Air/Slopestyle (through four of five events)
1. Chris Corning — 2,000* QUALIFIED
1. Red Gerard — 2,000* QUALIFIED
3. Chandler Hunt — 1,400* (2nd and 3rd)
4. Kyle Mack — 1,000* (2nd and 13th)
5. Ryan Stassel -- 1,400 (2nd and 3rd)
6. Judd Henkes — 1,100 (3rd and 4th)
1. Jamie Anderson — 2,000* QUALIFIED
2. Julia Marino — 1,600* (1st and 3rd)
2. Hailey Langland — 1,600* (2nd and 2nd)
4. Jessika Jenson — 1,600 (1st and 3rd)
5. Ty Walker — 1,300 (2nd and 4th)
*Has automatic qualifying minimum of one top-three result against entire contest field.
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*Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly reported the highest possible score in the final was an 87.5.