Originally published in the November 2017 issue of TransWorld SNOWboarding, Red Gerard’s interview is the first of eight conducted with up-and-coming riders over the course of a week in Aspen, Colorado in April 2017.
If there is one individual under legal drinking age--well, actually under the legal age to do anything aside from drive a car--who has been looked at as snowboarding's next big thing, it's Redmond Gerard. But as we head into an Olympic year, this gift is also a curse. Red's demeanor isn't such that he basks in the glory projected on him. Don't get me wrong; the kid can handle the limelight, and he doesn't hate it. He's been in it for long enough now. But as the inevitable "Red, White, and Blue" headlines begin to pop up from mainstream media outlets, Red will feel the spotlight's heat more than he ever has. Fortunately, he's grown up with as strong and grounded of a support system as any young star could ask for. His family is large and tightknit, with older siblings who have punched his ego down for at least 14 of his 17 years. The bonds he's formed on-hill with a group of other prospective snowboard talent provide the close friendships that most kids develop in a classroom.
We gathered this wild crew, along with anyone in Red's family who could make it, at a house in Aspen. With every inch of bed, couch, and floor space spoken for, the group got as rowdy in the garage, basement, and driveway as they did on the slushy spring setup in the adjacent Aspen Snowmass terrain park. Almost. It was both a culmination of a season spent on the move and a window of carefree carousing before heading into the requisite training and contests that would, for most of these young phenoms, occupy their months heading into the hyped-up Olympic year on the horizon. When you spend four days confined with a collective force of energy like this one, you pick up not only on the variations in their eclectic riding styles, but also the intricacies in demeanor between those in the group. We pulled each out of the chaos long enough to ask some questions that highlight the nuances of these eight individuals that represent snowboarding's next generation, starting with Red. We'll be releasing the rest of these short interviews with snowboarding's next round over the following weeks.
-- Taylor Boyd
Give us the Red story, start from day one.
I was born June 29, 2000, in Cleveland, Ohio. Lived there for seven years, did the usual. Swam in some lakes. I moved to Colorado when I was seven just for the winters then came back in the summer. I started snowboarding at this hill an hour from my house, Brandywine, when I was two. All I can remember is we did a trip up to Whistler one time, and my dad just kind of carried me up the hill, and I bombed right down. That would be my first snowboarding memory.
So how did the move to Colorado come about?
We didn't even move there for snowboarding. My mom just wanted to move there so bad, and my dad started working at home, so we could. So we were like, "Alright, we'll just do it for the winter and see how it is." But we kept going back, and we finally bought our house there like two years ago, so not that long ago.
How many brothers and sisters do you have?
I'm one of seven. Two sisters and five brothers, including me, and we all snowboard. It's pretty exciting when we all come around for Christmas and all that. We all rip together.
What do mom and pops do?
Well, my sister runs a successful food blog; she's actually number one in the world right now. Half Baked Harvest. She's writing a book right now; it's not even finished, but it's a best seller on Amazon right now, and it's not even out. So she does that, and my mom works for my sister actually. And then my dad does bonds and stocks and that sort of thing.
How have your brothers shaped your perspective on snowboarding?
My brothers have literally done everything for me in snowboarding. They've taught me everything, and they were always so down to help me, and I just kind of always wanted to do what they were doing, so I started doing it too.
Do you feel like they keep you in check?
Yeah, they keep me in check for sure. It's so nice having brothers for that, because they really do, they keep you in check. They let you know when you're being an asshole and when you're getting cocky and stuff. When I go home, I'm just the little brother; there's nothing special about me or anything, and we all just hang.
Do you think the fact that Brendan made a path for himself in snowboarding has had an effect on you making your path as well?
Yeah, for sure. Brendan went to high school in Crested Butte, at a snowboard academy. We wouldn't live in Colorado without him, because my mom would always go out there, and she loved it. He did that, and I didn't really see Brendan for a while. During the first parts of my life, he was developing a career or whatever. I went to Hood for the first time with him, and we kind of just camped, it was super fun.
When did you first realize you're pretty good, and you could make a run at this thing?
I actually never really had that thought, honestly. There wasn't really a time where I was like, "Oh man, snowboarding is it." I was just doing it. I was down with it. I was having fun. I just thought, "I don't really want to stop this"
When you were young, instead of snowboarding with other kids your age, you were mostly riding with the Hobo crew--Colin Walters, Billy Mackey, Kyle Hay, Chedda, and those guys. How do you think that shaped your riding?
I think that's what helped me a lot. I was always riding with people better than me, which is key. The other thing is that riding with older people and hanging out with older people matures you. I seriously hung out with just my brothers and no other little kids for so long. I remember when I was younger, like 12 or something, I went to go hang out with some of my school friends, and I was like, "Dude, I cannot do this; you guys are too much."
Did you learn 9s at nine?
Dude, that was the funny part actually, I did. For the longest time, my goal was every time I turned an age, I had to learn that trick. Like that spin count. I had it going for a while.
Let's talk a little bit about the Olympics. What do you have to do next year?
I'm going to try to go. Right now, it's looking pretty good.
Are you nervous?
No, not really. I haven't really thought about it much. I really try not to think about it. There's so much crazy stuff going on with it; I'm going to have to start doing all this TV stuff.
You must think about it a bit though.
No, I don't ever really think about it. Sometimes my mom and my dad will talk about it, just about what it's going to be like if I make it and all that.
You don't seem like an insanely competitive person.
No, I'm not really. I mean when I was younger I was a competitive person with my brothers and shit; I would get so angry at them. But no, I'm not that competitive.
Do you like competing though?
I like practices. The practices are the sickest part, dude, because you're just ripping with your homies linking the craziest lines. If you think about it, practices are insane--linking some of the gnarliest lines, seeing what will work and what won't. I mean the minute the contest actually starts, it's not that fun, unless you land your run and you're sitting in a good place.
Your mom said it would be your dream to go into the Olympics as an underdog, like Sage [Kotsenburg] did. Do you agree with that?
I really don't want to go in as the guy like Shaun White, like "Alright, he's going to win." I don't want that; I'd rather be the guy that barely makes it in there. Think about it; last Olympics Shaun got fourth. Amazing spot, really good. But it was considered a loss.
Right. He's still the fourth best halfpipe snowboarder in the world, but he "lost."
That's the thing about the Olympics. I always talk about this with my Dad; the Olympics makes me so angry sometimes because it's just another contest. Why is there so much leading up to it? I get it; it's a big contest. If you win it, your life is going to change, and it's going to be dope, but it's the same contest. The course isn't even that much better or anything. The US Open has the best courses.
But you don't think about it in terms of the greater meeting of representing your country on this world stage?
I mean, maybe that is a good way to think of it, that I am representing the USA going into it, but I don't know. There's just so much weight put on it.
That's where something like this comes in. Is that kind of why you do this event here with this crew? You say you like practice. This is like practice.
Exactly, yeah, and I think the reason why this started is because I literally didn't have enough shots for my video part, and I was like, "Alright, let's include the friends." This happened, and I'm super down with it. There's no pressure; I try not to have super big stuff built. Honestly, you saw yesterday; we're ripping, doing double corks and stuff. We're doing all the same stuff that you would see in a contest, but there's no pressure, and that's the dope part. You just do what you want.
Are you going to train?
Yeah, I would love to learn some new tricks--not even for the Olympics or anything, but just so my snowboarding gets better. It gets boring doing the same stuff.
In terms of the filming side of things, you just got a sled.
Yeah, I did. I'm so excited. Dude, I'm a 'necker. I wallrode a tree. I'm dead serious; I wall rode a tree. There was a big one, and I was like just 13 o'clock, fully over, then came back down right into a tree. My sled rode out; I jumped off and got real scared.
If and when you do get over the contest scene, do you see yourself transitioning into snowmobiling and riding more powder?
Dude, for sure. Yeah I would love to do that, maybe even after the Olympics. Contests are fun, but they get old, and I don't know. We'll see; I'd be down to kind of do what Sage is doing.
It would be insane to see a season from you without any contests, just filming.
I'm very curious to see what it's like and actually do it. Having that as my main focus--I'd be pretty psyched on that.
[Colin D. Watt interjects] If you medal at the Olympics, and you end up on some big talk show like Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, you have to agree right now to somehow say the name Colin D. Watt.
That's no doubt, my dog. I got you.