Why teen Olympic gold medal winner hasn't set foot in school since he was 13

Associated Press

He’ll check their Snapchat pictures and think, “That would be so cool, to do what they’re doing.”

Associated Press |

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It’s easy to think that Red Gerard has all the luck. The Rocky River, Ohio native turned Colorado snowboard road-tripper stunned the snowboarding world with a gold medal run in the snowboard slopestyle event in Pyeongchang on Saturday, earning the US’s first gold medal at the 2018 Winter Olympic games.

Yet, as this terrific profile by the Washington Post’s Adam Kilgore shows, Gerard’s life isn’t all roses. His snowboarding commitments mean that he has had to continue school solely via online classes since 2014, and that he’s still wistful about the friends and school he left behind.

Gerard has lived on the road since 13, taking classes online. Sometimes, he briefly imagines what it would be like to attend a brick-and-mortar high school. He sees his friends back home forming friendships, “always hanging out with girls and stuff,” he said. He’ll check their Snapchat pictures and think, “That would be so cool, to do what they’re doing.” Those thoughts, though, are always fleeting. He remembers quickly he is doing exactly what he wants.

While those realties may be tough to stomach, Gerard insists that he is still living the life he desires, snowboarding twice a day in training and gaining a creative edge that he rode to a surprising Olympic gold, becoming the second-youngest American ever to win a Winter Olympic gold medal: the only “man” younger to win gold was Billy Fiske in 1928 in the bobsled.

Naturally, Gerard won’t get any younger, so that’s one record that’s out of reach. Everything else is still on the table for an uber-talented if wafer-thin snowboarder who is just starting to set the snowbound world on fire.

“He wants to win so bad,” USA Snowboard Coach Dave Reynolds told Kilgore. “Even though he acts like he doesn’t.”