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Right around the time 17-year-old Red Gerard clinched gold at the 2018 Olympics in men’s snowboard slopestyle, becoming the sport’s youngest Olympic gold medalist in history, he and his mom Jen started scheming. Their desire was to do some good for Summit County, which for years had served as the Ohio native’s home base for training as he honed the talent, skills, and world-class arsenal of tricks that eventually rocketed him to the podium in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
“We both thought it would be really cool to give back to the community,” says Red, now 19.
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Their tactic, which was initially Jen’s idea, went like this: Recreate the homemade rail park that’s existed in the Gerard family’s backyard in Silverthorne essentially since the family bought the property in the early twenty-tens—the rail park that a younger Red used to ride “every single day” after he’d already shredded for hours at resorts; the rail park that he admits had a “pretty big” influence on his development as an athlete; the rail park that’s evolved over the years and currently boasts a motor-powered tow rope capable of lugging about five riders at once; this rail park—and share it with the masses.
Now, nearly two years in the making, Jen and Red’s brainchild debuted on Monday, December 23 at Copper Mountain as Red’s Backyard, a free, hikeable terrain park designed for skiers and snowboarders of all levels. Through a partnership with Woodward and its parent company POWDR Corporation, which owns 11 mountain resorts in the U.S. including Copper and Eldora, two other editions of Red’s Backyard are also opening this season—one in Park City, Utah and one in Killington, Vermont.
To design the trio of Woodward-branded parks, Red worked with pro snowboarder Jeremy Jones and Chris Gunnarson at POWDR to determine the ideal combo of features that would pack broad appeal. “There actually are difficult rails, and then also someone like my little sister, Asher, who is 11 years old, [can] go there and also have fun,” says Red, who is the sixth of seven siblings in the Gerard clan.
Copper’s version of Red’s Backyard opened with twelve features, says Adam Kisiel, senior manager of Woodward Copper, though the total number and specific type of features will change regularly. “We’re never going to have the same thing in there for more than a week, so it’s going to be something that’s fresh and exciting,” he says.
After opening day, for example, the park was adjusted to include nine features, including a mini tube, down tube, creeper ledge, and flat box as well as a variety of rails—from a frame rail and a down-flat-down rail to a waterfall rail, flat rail, and battleship rail.
Throughout the season, visitors can also access Red’s Shred Shed, a tiny wooden house perched above the terrain park. There, folks can unload gear, hang out on a couch, and peep photos of the park’s namesake phenom snowboarding at the resort as a kid. All in all, Red’s Backyard at Copper is about the size of a football field, making it viewable from the deck of Jack’s Bar and the outside patio of Duke’s, says Kisiel.
And how does Copper’s version of “Red’s Backyard” compare to the Gerard family’s OG set-up in Silverthorne? “It will be a lot, lot, a lot a lot better for sure,” Red said several weeks before the opening. “The backyard [in Silverthorne] is a relatively small hill with some good features on it, but Copper is going to be a lot longer with actual rails, snowboard rails—not horse fences and all that—so I think it’s going to ride a lot smoother.”
Though Red recently bought a house in Lake Tahoe, he still considers his family’s place in Silverthorne his “main home.” And whenever he’s in town, he hopes to visit Red’s Backyard. “I would love to come over, throw out some product and stuff,” he says.. “You know, just ride or whatever.”