It was a typical day for teenager Red Gerard. He stayed up late watching Netflix and overslept the next morning when he hit the snooze button multiple times (which we’ve all done, right?) He couldn’t find his snowboarding gear, so he borrowed a friend’s coat and rushed to the mountain arriving just in time. When his turn came to hit the slope, he laid down a near perfect run and loudly dropped the f-bomb to celebrate.

Did I mention this was on international television at the Olympics when he earned the United States its first gold medal of the 2018 games? And even though the event was on tape delay, NBC still missed deleting the expletives.

“RAD” Gerard is the new poster boy for teens everywhere.

He’s a 17-year-old snowboarder from Colorado who won gold in the men’s snowboard slopestyle event, and the youngest athlete ever to capture the top medal. This is the second time in a row that America’s first gold of the Winter Olympics came from snowboard slopestyle, but this kid took his own path to the podium.

And the world loves him for it.

Any parent of teenagers can appreciate Gerard’s combination of spirit, dedication, and missteps. While I cringed for Red’s parents as I heard his sweary excitement, it is hard not to also laugh at his youthful exuberance. It is what makes raising teens incredibly rewarding and tremendously challenging at the same time.

Too often the young competitors we see during the Olympics look stoic and sedate. While we cheer them on from behind television screens, we hear their stories about sacrifice and relentless dedication. We admire their work ethic, but often wonder what did these kids miss out on to achieve the Olympic dream.

Gerard demonstrated it is okay to be a typical teenager and an Olympic athlete.

He admitted he was nervous before his last run, after falling on his previous two. He felt the weight of expectation. He wondered where he left his jacket.

And then he killed it while his entire family watched on with large placates of his face waving in the air.

What makes Gerard different from other teen athletes? Perhaps it’s because he joyously learned his sport by chasing after his four older brothers. Maybe it’s his freakish athleticism. Possibly it’s his family that keeps him grounded and loves him unconditionally.

Whatever it is, keep it up Red. Stay safe, and keep shredding.


Whitney Fleming

Whitney is a mom of three teen daughters, a communications consultant, and blogger. She tries to dispel the myth of being a typical suburban mom although she is often driving her minivan to soccer practices and attending PTA meetings. She writes about parenting, relationships, and w(h)ine on her blog Playdates on Fridays.