Red Gerard entered the final of his three runs of the men’s snowboard slopestyle event in 11th place.
Seconds later, he had jumped to first.
What happened in between? The 17-year-old newly crowned gold medalist landed a backside triple cork 1440, a trick first pulled off in 2011 by Mark McMorris, who took bronze behind Gerard and Max Parrot in PyeongChang.
Here’s Gerard’s run in full:
Here’s the breakdown of how the backside triple cork 1440 — Gerard’s final trick — gets its name:
“Backside” comes from turning backwards upon takeoff. Gerard turns his back to the slope to begin his first rotation.
“Triple cork” comes from performing three complete vertical flips of his body in the air.
“1440” comes from four complete backside rotations of the snowboard (360×4 = 1440). As you can hear in the clip, the announcer counts out all four of these rotations as Gerard’s board rotates around him four times. Remember, he’s also flipping his body three times. Dizzy yet?
It’s a really complex trick — for the inexperienced eye, it takes at least a couple of views to see him complete all the requirements of the trick. And on top of it all, Gerard had to land on his feet, which he did perfectly.
Needing to put down the biggest trick of his life in the biggest run of his life, Red Gerard did just that. It was a stunning and spectacular way for the United States to earn its first gold of these games.
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• Teenager Red Gerard wins first U.S. medal, taking gold in snowboarding slopestyle
• Earthquake hits roughly 100 miles from PyeongChang
• South Korea wins first gold in speed skating in unusual way