Winter Olympics

Red Gerard becomes first Winter Games medallist born this century, wins slopestyle gold at 17

Gerard became the youngest US Winter Olympic champion since 1928, and also set the record for the youngest gold medallist in a snowboarding event.

Teen sensation Red Gerard nailed a tension-packed final jump on Sunday to win the slopestyle snowboarding and become the first Winter Olympic medallist born this century.

Aged 17 and 227 days, Gerard handed the US their first gold of the Pyeongchang Games with his slopestyle win, making him the youngest US Winter Olympic champion since 1928.

Gerard, born on June 29, 2000, also set a record for the youngest gold medallist in any snowboarding event that was held previously by Kelly Clark, the 2002 women’s halfpipe champion at age 18 years and 199 days.

The first medallist born in the 2000’s, Gerard is also the youngest US man to win Winter Olympic gold since 16-year-old bobsled driver Billy Fiske piloted a five-man crew to the title 90 years ago.

“I cannot believe it,” Gerard said. “I’m shaking right now, maybe from the cold, or the excitement. I don’t know. But I’m ecstatic. I can’t believe it.

“Just to land a run would have been plenty for me and to get on the podium, but to get first is crazy.”

The 17-year-old landed a backside triple cork – a triple-twisting trick with a flip – to score 87.16 points on his final run to snatch victory from Canadians Max Parrot, who took silver, and Mark McMorris, who picked up a second bronze after Sochi four years ago.

“I’m super-psyched!” said Gerard, who wants to attend film school for the next two years.

“I’d have to guess people are pretty surprised,” Gerard said. “I had a lot of fun and all I really want to do is just land runs.”

Gerard was off the pace after the first and second runs, scoring 43.33 and 46.40, before somehow summoning up an enormous last effort.

“After I landed the second jump I was like, ‘Come on, don’t blow it on the last one, let’s just make it through’,” Gerard said.

“The wind was really bad and the first two runs it was pretty tough, but we got a nice little break on the third and I’m just happy I got it to land.”

‘Just so happy’

The only younger individual event Winter Olympic champion than Gerard was Finnish 16-year-old ski jumper Toni Nieminen in 1992.

“It feels incredible. I’m just really happy that I got to land a run and I’m just really excited right now,” said the Colorado native, who came fourth in the X-Games last month.

Gerard tried the sport as a toddler then took it up with a passion aged eight when his family moved closer to the snow. He built his own snowboarding training ground with his brother at the back of his family home as his ambitions grew. Seventeen family members are in Pyeongchang supporting him.

“It’s definitely crazy having a group of 17 people on the slope run-in, knowing that they are there,” he said.

“They helped with everything in the build-up... and they smack me back into place when I get all cocky.”

Appearing at an Olympics was top of his career targets after joining the World Cup circuit in 2015. And it lived up to all his expectations.

“It was awesome. I just told myself that I want to land a run and I was a little bummed on my first two runs because I fell a couple of times,” he said.

“I’m just so happy that it all worked out.”

Canada’s Parrot, who won the X-Games Big Air this year in Aspen, Colorado, also had a disappointing first two runs but hoisted himself into silver on his last attempt, and threatened for more.

“I saw Red landing his run,” Parrot said. “It was just clean from top to bottom and that’s what the judges wanted to see.”

Third placed McMorris said the bronze medal was just like winning gold for him following a near-fatal accident 11 months ago. McMorris was fighting for his life after breaking 17 bones and suffering a collapsed lung and ruptured spleen in a snowboarding accident.

(With inputs from AFP)

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”

“Terrible!!!”

“Like what?”

“Like….”

A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”

“Shameless!”

“Shameful!”

“Ashamed.”

“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:

Play

This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.