Teen Gerard wins slopestyle snowboarding for USA’s 1st gold

Silver medallist Canada’s Max Parrot, gold medallist US Redmond Gerard and bronze medallist Canada’s Mark McMorris celebrate on the podium during the victory ceremony at the end of the men’s snowboard slopestyle final at the Phoenix Park during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games on February 11, 2018 in Pyeongchang. (AFP)
Updated 11 February 2018
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Teen Gerard wins slopestyle snowboarding for USA’s 1st gold

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea: Red Gerard and his brothers built their own snowboarding features park in the backyard of their Colorado home as kids, one that provided them a gateway into a sport that is an equal mix of technical precision and daring creativity.
Halfway across the world from his makeshift beginnings, the teenager made the Olympic stage look like just another afternoon back in Silverthorne, Colorado.
The 17-year-old won gold in men’s slopestyle snowboarding on Sunday, drilling his final run to put up a score of 87.16, good enough to edge Canadians Max Parrot and Mark McMorris and give the United States its first gold medal at the Pyeongchang Games.
“It’s a little bit hard to believe, that’s for sure,” Gerard said. “I’m just absolutely just mind-blown. I can’t believe everything worked out.”
Gerard stumbled his way through his opening two runs at tricky, windy and sun-splashed Phoenix Snow Park. It hardly mattered.
He found the line and the rhythm he was missing his third time down the mountain, using some of the techniques he first learned in his backyard to navigate the series of rails at the top before soaring through the moonscape at the bottom.
“I think I was just a little bit nervous (at first),” Gerard said. “I was just like, ‘I came all the way out here, I was just trying to land a run most of all.’“
He didn’t just land it, he stomped it, finishing with a backside triple cork — three twists and a flip — to the delight of his father, Conrad, and the other 17 family members and friends who followed him to South Korea.
“I don’t understand all the tricks he does,” Conrad Gerard said. “I asked my boys, was that good? They said, ‘Yeah, it’s good.’“
And ultimately golden.
Gerard exulted in the moment as he took a few minutes to chat with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach.
“(Bach) was like, ‘What were you thinking during all those spins?’” Gerard said. “And I was like, ‘I just want to land a run, that’s about it.’ He was kind of joking around.”
Gerard, who lived in the Cleveland, Ohio, area early in his life before his family moved to Colorado when he was 7, stood at the bottom of the hill to see if anyone in the rest of the field could catch him.
They couldn’t. Not this time.
McMorris, a bronze medalist when slopestyle made its Olympic debut in Sochi four years ago, put up an 85.20 during his second run but under-rotated during the last jump of his final landing.
Norwegians Staale Sandbech and Markus Kleveland slipped up during their last shots, too, leaving only Parrot in Gerard’s way.
Parrot topped qualifying on Saturday, just as he did in Sochi as a 19-year-old before sliding to fifth in the finals. Parrot washed out in his first two runs on Sunday, failing to post a score anywhere close to podium-worthy. He collected himself during the short break between the second and third runs and put together a solid set. He made a brief fist-pump after landing and exchanging high-fives with Gerard in a sport that’s built less on competition and more on camaraderie.
Gerard, Parrot and McMorris stood near one another waiting for Parrot’s score to post. When the videoboard flashed 86.00, Gerard celebrated becoming the youngest American snowboarder to win Olympic gold. He’s also the second straight American to win the event, which made its Olympic debut in 2014. Sage Kotsenburg claimed the top spot in Sochi.
McMorris’ second bronze medal came less than 12 months removed from a harrowing free-riding accident that left him with a litany of injuries and threatened to put his career at risk.
Gerard, Parrot and McMorris will have a chance to win another medal when Big Air makes its first Olympics appearance later in the games. That’s heady territory for Gerard, a kid who grew up not aiming for Olympic glory but just a chance to shred.
“I just didn’t think I knew what the Olympics is (as a kid),” Gerard said. “I just kind of grew up watching Dew Tour and X Games. I never really realized how big it is.”
He does now.


Spain considers playing Super Cup in Saudi Arabia

Updated 9 min 3 sec ago
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Spain considers playing Super Cup in Saudi Arabia

  • Proposal will be made at the federation’s general assembly next week

MADRID: The Spanish soccer federation is looking into the possibility of playing the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia beginning next year.

Federation President Luis Rubiales said Wednesday playing in the Middle East is one of the options being considered for the tournament, as well as a “final four” format with the top finishers in the Spanish league and the Copa del Rey.

The competition has been played in a one-game final between the champions at the beginning of the season. The idea is to play the new Super Cup in January.

The proposal will be made during the federation’s general assembly next week.

Rubiales did not confirm reports the deal will be worth €30 million ($33 million) a year for six seasons, saying “it will be difficult” to reach that value.

The federation president, one of the main critics of the Spanish league’s idea to play a regular-season match in the US, said the decision would take into consideration the players’ health, noting that playing in Saudi Arabia would not affect them as much as if the game was played in the US or Asia, where travel time and time differences were greater. Last year’s final, won by Barcelona against Sevilla, was played in Tangier, Morocco.

This year’s Italian Super Cup was played in Saudi Arabia as part of a multi-year deal worth more than €20 million ($22 million).  The Spanish players’ association, which complained about the Spanish league’s attempt to play in the US, did not oppose the idea of playing in Saudi Arabia.

“We weren’t against playing in the United States, what we wanted at the time was to be consulted about the idea and to give our opinion,” association president David Aganzo said Wednesday at an event organized by Europa Press. “If the proposal for the Super Cup is good for the players, we won’t have a problem with it.”

The Spanish league had to scrap the game in Florida after Barcelona, which would have faced Girona, backed down because of the lack of consensus among the parties involved. The league said it will try playing abroad again next season.

There is also a plan by the federation to reduce the number of games in the Copa del Rey to help clear up the calendar and keep teams from playing too many matches. The competition would include single elimination matches in some rounds, instead of a two-leg series. The proposal is also expected to be presented in next week’s general assembly.

“The clubs and the players want less official matches in the calendar,” Rubiales said.