17-year-old American snowboarder Red Gerard took home a gold medal—and delivered the first iconic style moment of the Winter Games.
Over the weekend, Red Gerard, a 17-year-old flying squirrel from Colorado, took home the Olympic gold in slopestyle, the snowboarding event that requires competitors to fling themselves onto rails, and then off a series of progressively larger jumps. Snowboarding has advanced quite a bit since I was eating shit on the bunny hill in 1999; Gerard’s winning run involved jumps of three-and-a-half and four full rotations. Dude was airborne.
Notably, he looked incredible while doing it. Not just in a “tasteful snowboarder” way. No, Gerard looked properly equipped to fly to the moon and back. And along with a gold medal, Gerard also delivered what I consider the Winter Olympics’ first iconic style moment. (Adorably, he did so while wearing his teammate’s jacket.)
That’s because Gerard, like the rest of his U.S. snowboarding teammates, was dressed in a uniform—made by O.G. snowboard outfitter Burton—patterned after literally out-of-this-world NASA gear. Let’s spend a minute on the uniform, because it’s really worth your time. The jacket is quilted, on-trend puffy, and comes in a pearlescent not-quite white; the pants have a little red badge that makes them look like nothing so much as renegades from a recent Prada collection. The gloves are basically space mittens, and the beanie Gerard threw on after his run—waffle-knit, utility off-white, and with that perfectly NASA-aping logo—looks tough enough to do time on the International Space Station, and cool enough to get street-styled at fashion week. This is probably really good gear to snowboard in, but I’d also like to wear it to pick up coffee and a bagel at the bodega.
Of course, this isn’t the first time Burton’s turned out the coolest gear at a given Olympics. Remember the quilts from Sochi? (Truly ahead of their time.) Or the flannel and jeans from Vancouver in 2010? Burton knows how to make athletic gear cool, and vice versa. And in our aggressively-sweatpanted times, it’s no surprise that designers who trained there—including Errolson Hugh and Hiroki Nakamura, the design wizards behind Acronym and Visvim, respectively—are leading the pack when it comes to making clothes that are deeply stylish and can hold up to Red Gerard’s backside triple cork 1440. And it’s no surprise that the brains behind this space-age collection belong to Greg Dacyshyn, who’s got a prodigious beard and a deeply envy-inducing sense of style.
But these uniforms aren’t just about looking good. The Olympic motto, translated from the Latin, means “Higher, faster, stronger.” And as mottos go, it’s a pretty good one. The Games are all about expanding the outer limits of what we know the human body to be capable of. And as we’ve written before, the best Olympic uniforms exemplify that motto: they remind us that the athletes wearing them are truly the best in the world, and in the best cases expand our idea of what an athlete can be. Burton’s gear reminds us of all that, and then some. The uniforms remind us that Red Gerard can fly, and that it’s only our puny planet’s gravity that keeps him from really putting his spacesuit to the test.
After his medal-winning run, Gerard did something to make his gold-medal-worthy uniform complete: he put on a helmet. Higher, faster, stronger—and spacier—indeed.
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