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Teen snowboarder Gerard wins first U.S. gold at Winter Olympics

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — A blustery morning wind had just about everyone scrambling in the men’s slopestyle event. Except for Red Gerard, who kept his footing all the way to the podium.

Kicking off the second day of full events at the Pyeongchang Olympics, the 17-year-old snowboarder won the United States’ first gold medal of the games.

“Everyone in the contest was worried about the wind and stuff,” said Kyle Mack, Gerard’s friend and Olympic roommate. “I kept telling him, ‘Don’t think about it. Do the run you know you have to do.’

“He went out and put it down flawlessly.”

Also Sunday, Dutch speedskater Sven Kramer broke his own Olympic record in the men’s 5,000 meters to win his third straight medal in the event, Felix Loch missed his shot at a third straight luge title with a wobble on the last run and, in a biathlon stunner, Martin Fourcade and Johannes Thingnes Boe missed their targets and both missed out on medals.

Earlier, Simen Hegstad Krueger led a Norwegian sweep and won the men’s 30-kilometer cross-country skiathlon — despite crashing on the first lap.

The men’s downhill was postponed until Thursday because of strong winds. But other medals were scheduled to be awarded in the men’s 10-kilometer sprint in biathlon, the ladies’ moguls in freestyle skiing and men’s luge singles.

Swirling winds blew from the bottom of the mountain during the slopestyle, and the 5-foot-5, 116-pound Gerard took advantage of the quick reflexes he honed while growing up just outside of Breckenridge, Colorado. He took a risk on the second-to-last jump by trying a 1080-degree jump off the quarterpipe side of the kicker instead of going straight through the jump and flying higher. Gerard then closed with a backside triple-cork 1440.

It all added up to a first-place score of 87.16 — and a gold medal.

“Just having fun snowboarding,” Gerard said.

Canadian teammates Max Parrot (86.00) and Marc McMorris (85.20) took bronze and silver, respectively.

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