Red Gerard makes good on promise to younger sister, visits Frisco Elementary
In the wake of his whirlwind Olympic gold medal year, if there’s one snowboarder Red Gerard is most excited to ride with this winter, it may just be his little sister, Asher.
A year ago, during a terrain park video shoot in Aspen — before his Olympic qualification, before his gold-medal win and before his sudden international superstardom — Asher joined her famous brother out there on the hill.
“And, of all my friends,” Red said, “she took more laps than anyone there. I’m hoping to make some time this year and go snowboarding with her.”
Despite his still super hectic intercontinental snowboarding schedule, Tuesday at Frisco Elementary School was about family, community and retracing roots for the now 18-year-old Silverthorne resident. There, Red’s fourth-grade sister was the leader in spearheading what was, effectively, a Red Gerard homecoming day at his former school.
Tagging along with Asher and Red was their brother, Malachi; mother, Jen; and father, Conrad. What Asher served up for the rest of her dozens of Frisco Elementary classmates was the treat of getting to ask Red questions and for autographs.
For Asher and the Gerard family, Tuesday’s festivities were a long time coming. Red said, in the wake of his gold medal win, his younger sister “patiently bugged” him about showing up at her school and sharing his story with her classmates. She especially wanted her big brother to come by considering he had made an appearance at another school of his back in his home state of Ohio.
“He had already been to my cousins’ schools,” Asher said, “so I was just kind of jealous. So we’ve been trying to have it happen since April. And then I knew he was coming to Denver this week, so I just asked if he could come.”
With that sliver of free time in Red’s globetrotting schedule, Asher asked her mom to email her teacher about having Red come in. On the heels of preseason training in Switzerland, it’d be a tight turnaround for Red to swing up from Denver, but he was more than happy to make it happen.
“I was just home for a night,” Red said, “and I just wanted to get it in. I know it meant a lot to Asher, to meet all of her schoolmates.”
While Red and Asher handed out snowboarding-related goodies to the throng of students, their older brother took photos and filmed the festivities. Also fresh off a plane from Switzerland via Portland, the filmmaker Malachi said he helped his younger sister by corralling all of the giveaways her classmates were gifted.
“She set everything up,” Malachi said, “she wanted me to get all of the prizes, asked me to contact Red’s sponsors — Red didn’t know about any of that.”
Malachi also said before she introduced Red, Asher practiced what she wanted to say, with about five different ideas floating through her head.
What did she decide on?
“Basically, that he’s the youngest Olympic gold medalist since 1928,” Asher said.
Asher was in South Korea back in February when Red strung together the stylish slopestyle run that, at the very last moment, secured him that historic gold medal. Malachi, filming that beyond-busy moment, said he had fond memories of seeing his younger sister embrace her suddenly famous brother after his win.
“He came out and she was standing there,” Malachi recalled of Red, “and, it was like she didn’t know him, or something. She was nervous to, like, hug him. And he walks up and he’s like: ‘What are you doing? Get over here!’ And she ran up and finally hugged him and said, ‘I’m so proud of you.’ It was really cute.”
“It was, just, that day was so crazy,” Red added. “I don’t think any of us really expected it to go like that. It was just a really crazy and surreal moment. I didn’t even know when I gave her a hug that she was going to be all over TV.”
In his return to his old school — the one where he’d quietly wait in the main office for mid-day pickups to go practice or compete on the local hills — Red ran into a handful of his former teachers while also getting to know Asher’s.
Last year during the Olympics, Whitney Smith was Asher’s teacher. Once the Gerards returned home, Smith welcomed Asher and her mom to share their own Olympic story. Smith’ students were transfixed by several things, including the fancy watch Red was awarded, the replica of the Olympic tiger mascot the Gerards brought in and Asher’s story about a cat café she visited in South Korea.
“I just think it’s a cool connection that they had,” Smith said of the brother and sister. “Being the two youngest in the family, you can tell by the way she talks about him that it’s special.”
Eighty-eight minutes after Tuesday’s event began, on the front stoop of Frisco Elementary, Red Gerard finally got a reprieve from handing out sponsor gear and signing autographs. During the last few minutes of signing — beneath a student-created banner that read “Welcome back, Red!” — Gerard turned to his sister, who sat perched, presiding over the festivities.
“Asher,” Red said to his sister, looking up from the T-shirt he was signing, “You’re getting interviewed! Is that your first one?”
“Yes,” she replied.
Moments later, the two youngest Gerard children departed the school together. Asher’s favorite ski resort, Copper Mountain Resort, isn’t open yet this year, so they weren’t heading there. But brother and sister will soon enough be shredding together on the homefront.
“They are eight years apart,” their mother said, “but yet they are numbers six and seven. So they’ve always had fun together.”