Red Gerard considers Copper Mountain his home mountain – his family still lives in nearby Silverthorne, Colorado – and says Dew Tour is his favorite contest. He’s the two-time defending champion in Slopestyle, with Dew Tour wins in both February 2020 and December 2021, and this year will compete in the freshly reimagined Super Streetstyle event.
We caught up with him in Denver this week before heading up to the mountains to talk about his competitive nature and how he balances everything from Dew Tour, the Olympics, X Games, World Cup, Peace Park, Natural Selection, and backcountry filming with the style and grace that puts him on top of podiums and on the covers of magazines.
Colin Bane: Last season was a crazy contest calendar that included your Dew Tour Copper Mountain, and U.S. Grand Prix Mammoth Mountain wins to make the U.S. Olympic team, your 4th place finishes at both X Games and the Beijing Olympics, and then your Peace Park win at Mt. Bachelor. Somewhere in there, you also managed to shoot a proper backcountry part in British Columbia for the film Fleeting Time. How are you striking that balance between all these different aspects of snowboarding?
Red Gerard: Balance is huge. When I was younger, I used to say yes to everything and just kind of do it all, so I’ve always loved doing contests and filming all in one year. Doing all the Olympics stuff really makes it a long year, especially last year with COVID and all that, it was long, and it was draining. There are just so many steps to hit along the way! After the Olympics, I was ready to get off the map a little bit so I pretty much went straight from Beijing to filming up in Whistler, and that was the best thing I could have done for myself. This year is a big reset year for me, cherry-picking the handful of contests I want to do, working on filming a little bit more, and getting my energy levels right. But I like being busy: it makes it feel like I’ve had a good season when I’m that busy and can look back at everything I got up to.
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What are you looking forward to about competing in the Super Streetstyle contest this week? You’re best known as a Slopestyle competitor but you’re also known for having grown up with a backyard setup that wasn’t too different from this kind of course, and we’ve seen that you can hold your own in all kinds of contests.
Any contest at my home mountain, Copper Mountain, is always exciting: I really like that my family can come out and watch and it just feels like I’m at home. The other thing I love most about Dew Tour is that they’re super creative and listen to the riders and actually hear what we want to ride and switch it up all the time. They’ve always been like that since day one and it’s why it’s my favorite contest. Back in the day, they had four jumps in Slopestyle when no other contests had four jumps, and then they were the first to start adding in the side hits. So they’ve always been at the forefront of changing up the courses and doing things differently. The Streetstyle contests we’ve had these last few years at Copper Mountain and Breckenridge have been a ton of fun to watch and I’m looking forward to getting into that mix with this new supercharged Super Streetstyle contest. And I love that it’s going to be right at the base area and it’s going to be at night with music and a lot of fans able to see the whole thing. Luke Winkelmann is the defending Streetstyle champ, Zeb Powell is going to be there, all the greats. It’s gonna be a party.
This is now the 5th season that Copper Mountain has had a rail park branded as Red’s Backyard, loosely inspired by the backyard setup you grew up riding. Can you talk about why that project has been important to you?
I always think about those days, not long ago, when I was 13, 14, 15, when I would just ride the resort all day and then ride all night on the backyard rails. That was the stuff that helped me get to where I am in snowboarding, not just the fundamentals I learned out there but the passion I developed for it. The Red’s Backyard project with Woodward has always been a work in progress and I’ve learned so much each year with it. Getting people into snowboarding is always my goal. My dream is that people will start out on these smaller, super fun rail features, meet some friends, and then go from there. You know, getting that group of snowboarding friends together, that’s why I still snowboard and I’m lucky that I found that at a young age. That’s kind of been the story of my life: having a good group of friends that keep me motivated to go snowboarding.
By coincidence, the footage from your Natural Selection duel against Travis Rice is dropping on Sunday, the same day as your Super Streetstyle contest. What was it like to go up against the man himself, in his own contest? I heard he was talking a lot of trash in the lead-up to the duel.
I had fun with it, but there was definitely some trash talking! He wanted to build it up like a big rivalry story, like me coming up as the new player in the game looking to take down the big boss. It’s weird when Travis Rice texts you and he’s like, “Hey man, feel free to talk some trash on Instagram.” Like, how am I supposed to talk trash on the most legendary snowboarder out there, the person I have the most respect for? What am I supposed to say? In the end, I enjoyed the experience so much, getting to fly around in the heli with him and watching him ride. I knew it was going to be a really hard battle, but my plan was just to watch the way the man works and take away every great lesson from it that I can and try to put it into my riding. I was really excited about that. I came straight from X Games to do Natural Selection and I definitely wish I would have been able to get into the backcountry a little bit more to get ready for it, but we had fun and we both rode really great. It turned out to be one of the best experiences ever. We’ll see what the judges say!
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I’ve noticed in some recent interviews that you’ve been opening up about just how competitive you are. People tend to think of you as pretty casual about it all, but you’re a dude who wants to win, right?
It feels odd and a little corny for me to say, but yeah, I definitely want to win. I think I always had that competitive drive, even when I was younger: I always wanted to be the best. Mainly what I really love is competing at the highest level and all the challenges that brings. Especially after having some early success and getting on the podium, I realized how much I actually do want to win. You know, I won the Olympics when I was 17, so I developed a taste for it early!
At the Olympics last year I could see on your face how much it pained you to be in 4th place, missing that Slopestyle podium.
Oh yeah. It sucked! Last year I was riding the best I’ve ever ridden in my life, so to go over there to Beijing and do the run that I wanted and for it not to be judged correctly, it sucked. I landed that first run and I was just so happy. I wanted that win really bad. I thought I had that one, and as you know there was a lot of controversy about the judging. It definitely took a couple of days for that to settle in, but ultimately I landed the run that I wanted to do, and it just didn’t work out. Sometimes you get lucky with some stuff and sometimes you don’t. It’s just one of those things. I couldn’t have controlled the situation any differently, but to this day I feel like it could have been a gold medal run.
I always see you in the crowd fanning out when the women are competing. I know you were stoked to see your Burton Snowboards teammate Zoi Sadowski-Synnott, last year’s Dew Tour champ, take the Slopestyle gold in Beijing with your Mountain Dew and Team USA teammate Julia Marino taking silver right behind her. I’m looking forward to seeing Jill Perkins and defending Streetstyle champ Alexis Hernandez-Roland in Super Streetstyle at Dew Tour this year and there are some super exciting new names in the Superpipe, too, like the 14 year-old X Games champ Gaon Choi and 11-year-old Chinese phenom Patti Zhou.
Dude, it’s my favorite thing to watch right now. To me it’s like when men’s snowboarding was at its best in terms of progression, around 2011-2012, when everyone was learning stuff super fast. The women are right in that stage right now and it’s so thrilling. All of a sudden everyone has 1080s in the pipe, 1260s, and doubles, and we’re seeing lots of switch backside spins, the first triples, all kinds of innovation in the pipe, in the streets, in the backcountry, everywhere. It’s by far my favorite thing to watch.
Last year, while you were filming Fleeting Time, Aaron Blatt took a photo that ended up on the cover of Snowboard Magazine and another that put your partner Hailey Langland on the cover of Slush Magazine. What was special about that trip, that it all came together like that?
The interesting part about filming is you log a lot of days, and most of the days don’t work out. Most days, you’re not getting clips, and there’s weather and all that. All those clips that made it into the movie and the shots that made it to the magazine covers were from a seven-day span of sunshine: it’s amazing how much you can get done when you finally do get those good days! The whole thing is pretty incredible: we’re in these beautiful, quiet places all the time, there are no fans around, it’s not competitive at all. You’re just kind of hanging out with your friends, trying to get snowboarding clips. You’ve gotta have patience, but when the days are right, you really have to go after it to get the job done.
That photo was my first major cover. I had one for Snowboard Colorado when I was younger, but that was my first true cover of a big magazine, and it was really cool. My good buddy Mark Clavin is the photo editor, and he’d jokingly told me the photo would be somewhere in the middle of the magazine, so I wasn’t prepared for it at all. Then my parents came and visited me at my home, and my dad walked in with this huge framed photo of it. I was like, “Whoa, that’s crazy!”
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A lot of people know about your work with your brother Malachi as a longtime personal filmer. Now you’ve got some of these other collaborators, including Aaron Blatt in the mix, people you’ve really come to trust. Can you talk about what those kinds of relationships mean to you and how you collaborate with filmers and photographers?
It’s huge. I feel so lucky to travel around the world with my brother, and to have him filming, editing, and doing all that stuff is really amazing. Aaron Blatt has been the director of the past three movies I’ve worked on, and he was there for my Natural Selection duel, and I can’t give enough respect to him. He’s so, so awesome. He cares more about those projects than anyone else: he’s the one putting the trips together, and I’ve got a lot to thank that dude for. He’s a very successful photographer, partly because he looks out for us and builds those relationships. He has always done that with me, Brock Crouch, Ben Ferguson, Hailey, you know, all of us. He’s looked after us and has always tried to see what’s best for us. He knows the shots he’s after and puts in a lot of work to help make them happen. Backcountry filming is great for building those kinds of relationships because you’ve really gotta trust the people that you’re out with. A lot of scary stuff can happen out there. So you get to learn a lot about people, and the filmmakers and photographers are such crucial partners to have out there. They don’t get enough love for it. And it’s really awesome to have so many great filmers and photographers involved at Dew Tour: it’s sweet to have that at a contest, too. It’s just cool how much all those guys care about making snowboarding look good. It’s pretty special.