FRISCO — Red Gerard will ride into next week’s X Games in Aspen snowboarding at his best.
On Friday in Switzerland, Gerard was the top-scoring American and the runner-up in the men’s snowboard slopestyle final at the Laax Open. Under clear skies and in ideal riding conditions, Gerard laced together the most inventive line through the course.
On his first and highest-scoring run, Gerard earned a score of 85.45 with a run through the course that consisted of a rock ‘n roll, a backside nose-press 270, a cab-on backside 360 melon off of a rail feature, a frontside 1080, a backside 1260 with a melon grab, a switch backside 1440 with a mute grab and a cab-on to backside 720 off the butter knuckle feature.
Gerard tried to up his score on his second run through the course but wasn’t as clean with his line while riding through the softening snow later in the competition. That opened the door for Canadian star Sebastien “Seb Toots” Toutant to best Gerard with a score of 87.45.
Toutant’s run, which he pieced together after a hard crash in training, consisted of a 50/50 stall to a frontside 270 out of a rail feature, a hardway switch backside 270 lipslide, a switch lipslide underflip off of a feature, a frontside double cork 900, a cab 1260 with a nose grab, a backside 1440 with a mute grab and a frontside double cork 1080 with a mute grab.
Other top American finishers at Friday’s slopestyle competition included third-place finisher and rising Californian Judd Henkes (82.33), another rising teen star in Gerard’s close friend and North Carolina native Luke Winkelmann (sixth, 75.00), Ryan Stassel (eighth, 56.13), Dusty Henricksen (ninth, 39.63) Lyon Farrell (11th, 28.56) and Michigan native and Silverthorne resident Kyle Mack (12th, 26.81).
After the competition, the first FIS snowboard slopestyle competition of the World Cup season, Gerard ranks in second place in the 2019-20 men’s snowboard slopestyle season standings, with 800 points, only behind Toutant’s 1,000 points.
As for the overall park-and-pipe season standings — which combine results from slopestyle, halfpipe and big air competitions — Gerard’s 800 points from Friday catapult him to fourth place with 1,880 total points, behind fellow Summit County snowboarder and two-time reigning park-and-pipe season champion Chris Corning (first, 3,250), Canadian teen phenom Nicolas LaFramboise (second, 2,316) and Australian halfpipe juggernaut Scotty James (2,000).
On Thursday, another batch of Summit County residents and locals performed well in the Laax Open halfpipe semifinals. Steamboat Springs native and Breckenridge resident Taylor Gold soared to a third-place qualifying score of 84.00, only behind expected heavy-hitters in the dominant Australian champion James (92.50) and Japanese star Yuto Totsuka (84.50).
Behind Gold, Frisco resident Jason Wolle qualified in fifth place (78.50) and Dillon resident Chase Blackwell qualified through in ninth (74.25).
The fifth-place score was huge for Wolle, who is on the U.S. Rookie Team and working to break into the highest-level of competitors. Wolle did so with a run that included a frontside 900 with a tail grab, a backside double Michalchuk with an Indy grab, a frontside double 1080 with an Indy grab, a cab double 1080 with a switch Indy grab and a crippler double nose grab.
“For qualifiers, making sure I was well-rested was a big one for me, as well as taking training seriously and working closely with my coaches on a good game plan,” Wolle said.
Wolle, Blackwell and Gold will compete in Saturday’s final round, which will take place at 9:30 a.m. mountain time Saturday.