Summit’s Gerard and Corning miss podium in slopestyle Olympic final

Both compete in big air event Feb. 13

Cody Jones
Summit Daily News
Family members and friends react as they watch Red Gerard compete during a watch party of the Beijing Winter Olympics men’s snowboard slopestyle Sunday, Feb. 6. Gerard, the defending gold medalist, finished in fourth place.
Jason Connolly/For the Summit Daily News

It was Summit County’s time to shine in the Olympic men’s snowboard slopestyle finals Sunday, Feb. 6, as Red Gerard and Chris Corning competed in the 12-man final at Genting Snow Park in Beijing.

For the second straight Winter Olympic Games, the slopestyle final included the two Summit County riders. In 2018, Gerard took home the gold medal as a 17-year-old, while Corning placed ninth at the age of 18.

Both went into Sunday’s final looking to make Summit County and the rest of the United States proud by finishing as high as they could. The pair was joined by Hood River, Oregon, native Sean Fitzsimons, who had the best finish among Americans in qualifiers in third.

The final consisted of three runs by each competitor with the highest score counting toward the athlete’s final score.

Since Corning qualified in the 11th-place spot, he was the first American to take to the course.

Corning looked good through the first portion of the course but ended up falling on the last jump. He smiled while he received his score of 31.58, knowing he had two more runs to improve his score. After the first round, Corning was ranked eighth.

Gerard was the second American to go, and as the broadcast panned to him at the top of the slopestyle course, friends and family at the Gerard residence in Silverthorne erupted into cheers and applause for their reigning Olympic gold medalist.

Like in qualifiers, Gerard wasted no time warming up to the competition as he performed a switch backside 1620, a frontside 1080 and a backside 1620 on the jump features to score 83.25 and take the first-place position.

Everyone at the Gerard residence stood to their feet in celebration and exchanged high-fives after a great start for Gerard.

Fitzsimons fell on his first run of the day on the first jump feature while trying a 1640. He scored 29.48 to be ranked ninth after the first round.

On run No. 2, Corning once again didn’t have a clean run, was shaky on the rail section and fell on the second jump. Corning did not improve his score and sank to ninth, forcing him to rely on his final run to improve his position.

Gerard put together another almost perfect run to the average viewer as he strung together a flawless rail section and a backside 1620, a 1080 and another 1620 on the jump section.

Gerard scored 71.86, meaning he needed to go bigger on his final run in order to improve his position. Max Parrot, of Canada, and Yiming Su ,of China, put down better runs than Gerard to move him down to third after the second round.

Fitzsimons had a slightly better run but only scored 29.61.

Like in qualifiers, Corning came up clutch in the final moments of the competition. On his final chance, he put together the run he had been searching for all night. Corning performed a cab 1440, a switch backside 1260 and a backside 1440 as he skidded to a stop at the bottom of the course and was overcome with emotion.

Corning scored 65.11 to finish in sixth place. Corning waved and smiled to the camera in celebration after receiving his score. Corning’s sixth-place finish is a three spot improvement from four years ago, and he will compete again in the big air competition, which is his stronger event.

With many strong athletes left to compete, Gerard knew he had to put down something big. Gerard started down the course to the rail section but experienced some uncharacteristic slips, which zapped his speed and ended his run short of the jump features.

Gerard waited to see if his first run score would be enough to give him a bronze medal as his family back home also waited with nervous excitement.

Mark McMorris, of Canada, ended up bumping Gerard off the podium with a score of 88.53 on his final run.

Gerard finished in fourth place with his first run being his best of the competition. McMorris hung on to take home the bronze, Su took silver, and Parrot won gold.

“He tried a new trick on his final run, and it just didn’t work out, I guess,” Red’s mother Jen Gerard said after the competition. “We are still very proud of him and how he did, plus he still has the big air competition.”

Fitzsimons fell on his final run of the day. He finished in 12th in his debut Olympics.

Gerard, Corning and Fitzsimons will compete again in the snowboard big air event, which will take place starting at 10:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 13. The event will be broadcast on Peacock TV and other NBC affiliated channels.

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