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Olympic gold medal champion snowboarder Red Girard poses for a portrait at the base of Copper Mountain on Dec. 8. Girard and Copper Mountain Ski area are partnering on a new park called Red’s Backyard which will be at the base of the ski area. The park will mimic Girard’s own backyard park where he trains and rides. The park is slated to be open before the end of the year.
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COPPER MOUNTAIN — Ever wonder what it would be like to hang with Olympic slopestyle gold medalist Red Gerard at his famous backyard rail garden in Silverthorne? Soon, you’ll find the next best thing at Copper Mountain.

Gerard is collaborating with Copper to create Red’s Backyard, a “hike-to” park located at the Center Village base adjacent to the halfpipe. Access via hiking will be free — no lift ticket required.

“The park’s going to be based on my backyard,” said Gerard, one of the stars of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics when he was 17. “It’s basically going to have all the rails that my backyard has, if not better, and they’re actually going to be real rails. All the rails at our house are like horse fences and stuff. These are going to slide a lot better. It’s going to have anywhere from just learning how to snowboard, little rails and boxes, to actual rails that we hit in contests.”

To mark its grand opening, Copper is staging Red’s Backyard Jam on Dec. 23. Red’s Backyard will open at 9 a.m., with a ribbon-cutting and rail jam to begin at 11 a.m. Gerard will be there to preside and sign autographs.

Gerard has a deal with Copper Mountain’s parent company, Powdr Corp., so there will be two more Red’s Backyards at Powdr resorts in Park City, Utah, and Killington, Vt.

Even before he became a breakout star (outside of the snowboarding world, where he already was well known) and won his Olympic gold medal, Red’s Backyard, on a hill above the Factory Outlet stores in Silverthorne, had been a thing for years, capturing the attention of snowboarders and the people who follow them on Instagram. It has several kinds of rails and a rope tow.

“Just kind of a fun little backyard set-up,” Gerard said. “It got turned into this thing where there was more people coming over, more professional builders coming over and building really cool things. All of a sudden, it turned into this whole rail park. Last year, we had a really good snow base and we hardly ever left the house. I just kind of rode there the whole time.”

Looking AHead

After winning slopestyle gold at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics — despite oversleeping that morning and having to borrow a friend’s coat — Silverthorne’s Red Gerard made himself even more endearing to snowboarding fans by confessing he didn’t realize what a big deal the Olympics were until he got there.

He has a different perspective now.

“My head is on the next Olympics,” Gerard said. “It was a really fun experience, and it was almost like an addicting thing. I want to go back. In snowboarding, we’re not the biggest backers of the Olympics, because we have so many other (events) going on, but it really was cool going to the Olympics, doing the opening ceremonies and all that. It was pretty awesome.”

Gerard, now 19 years old, said he hopes he hasn’t “changed a ton, except for getting older.”

“That’s been my goal,” said Gerard, who made the rounds of network talk shows after PyeongChang. “To not let the fame or publicity get to me.”

Gerard and the folks who run Copper see the new park as a way to grow the sport and provide opportunities for aspiring young riders.

“My vision is, if you’re coming up to the mountain and you’re looking to hit rails and ride park, and you have to buy a $100 lift ticket, with Red’s Backyard, you won’t,” Gerard said. “Here at Copper Mountain, you’re just going to have to sign a waiver and it’s free to go hike the park. That’s where I want to touch base with people, like young, up-and-coming snowboarders that maybe don’t have a lift ticket to a lot of the resorts but are able to come here and hike the park. It’s going to be right at the base, so their parents can sit there and watch at the bar.”

Indeed, the deck at Jack’s Slopeside Grill in the Copper One building in Center Village will overlook Red’s Backyard.

Copper is stepping up for competitive snowsports in other ways. This year, it expanded the U.S. Ski Team Speed Center to include a giant slalom slope in addition to its longstanding preseason downhill track, which was much appreciated by ski racing superstar Mikaela Shiffrin. Gerard is happy because the Dew Tour (ski and snowboard slopestyle and superpipe) moves to Copper Feb. 6-9 after an 11-year run at Breckenridge. This week, as usual, Copper is hosting the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Grand Prix in the halfpipe, which will be televised on NBCSN.

“It makes me so excited,” Gerard said. “That’s the reason I ride here almost every single day that I’m home. I support this mountain so much and what they’re doing, how they’re bringing Dew Tour here — I’ve always been one of the biggest fans of Dew Tour and the way they’re trying to progress snowboarding. Now that Dew Tour and Copper Mountain are working together, that’s just like another spark in my brain where it’s like, ‘I’m with that Copper Mountain thing.’”

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