The Olympics and the case for millennials | VailDaily.com

The Olympics and the case for millennials

When Silverthorne's Red Gerard won gold at the Olympics, he became the first Winter Olympics champion born during the 21st century.

Gerard was born on June 29, 2000, and is all of 17.

For say, a 46-year-old born in 1971 — like me — that kind of slaps you upside the head.

Since the Vail Daily reorganized its office space, I am thankfully in a different place — about 150 feet — when Gerard was born.

That doesn't really make me feel better.

What does is the thought of a new generation entering the spotlight at the Winter Olympics.

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You know, those millennials.

Kids these days

Of course, millennials, in some circles, are the root of all evil, everything that's wrong with the world. They're entitled, self-centered, easily offended, on their phones nonstop and demand participation trophies because they're so gosh-darned special.

In fairness, every generation thinks the one that follows is pretty much worthless. The Greatest Generation begat the Baby Boomers, and those who weathered the Great Depression and World War II thought their kids were soft for protesting the Vietnam War and doing other silly things like fighting for civil rights.

Baby Boomers then saw Gen X-ers like me be the "MTV Generation" — never watched it — slackers and cynical. (OK, I'm definitely cynical.) We're meant to be active (Does golf count?), happy (sometimes) and have some work-life balance. (Not happening right now with this Olympics thing.)

We Gen X-ers were good-for-nothings, but hey, now, we have millennials to kick around. Huzzah.

Upon further review

But look at the Olympics. Yes, Gerard looks like he's 12 — another sign of middle age; everyone looks so darn young these days — and, at 17, he's a gold-medalist, the best in his world in his profession.

Snowboarder Chloe Kim, 17, just dope-slapped the field in the women's halfpipe, as I type this on Monday, Feb. 12, here in Colorado. (And congrats to Steamboat Springs' Arielle Gold, 21, for nabbing bronze.) Kim was good enough to compete in the games back in Sochi, Russia, but was too young at 13.

Darn kids these days, trying to snowboard at 13. Get off my lawn.

It's not just snowboarding, though we note that Eagle's Jake Pates is 19.

In speed skating, we've seen Maame Biney, 18, burst onto the scene in short-track skating. There's Nathan Chen, 18, and Karen Chen, also 18, in figure skating. Oh, yeah, that Tess Johnson girl, 17, in moguls.

Probably one of the most-touted athletes in these Olympics is 22 — Mikaela Shiffrin. She's clearly an underachieving millennial with her first FIS Alpine World Ski Championships slalom gold at 17 and an Olympic title at 18.

Of course, none of these young athletes are curing cancer. They're athletes.

But think about all the work that it takes to get to the Olympics, much less win there. They're training when others are sleeping. Down time? No, they're doing homework to keep up with school. Vacations, parties, "normal" teenage activity? Nope.

These millennials are showing all the work ethic that previous generations believe they lack.

Generalizations are dangerous. Every generation has its good and bad, but those darn millennials are looking good so far.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, cfreud@vaildaily.com and @cfreud.