Local skier Alex Ferreira, 18, has qualified to compete in this year’s Winter X Games after he won first place in a halfpipe competition at the North Face Park and Pipe Open Series in Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia on Thursday.
Ferreira, who is a senior at Aspen High School, won a gold medal for a clean, technical run, he said.
“Overall I just went big,” Ferreira said.
Ferreira trained hard during the days leading up to the competition, hiking the halfpipe over 20 times in two days to get in last-minute practice runs, he said. Still, the win came as somewhat of a surprise to Ferreira because he hadn’t placed in a freestyle competition in over a year, he said.
Ferreira’s performance in Whistler was strong enough to qualify him to compete in this year’s Winter X Games, which runs Thursday through Sunday at Buttermilk. Ferreira will go up against about a dozen other athletes on Thursday at 10:30 a.m. during an elimination round. If he scores high enough, Ferreira will go on to compete in the men’s superpipe finals on Friday at 8:45 p.m.
For Ferreira, being able to compete in the X Games is a dream come true, he said.
Ferreira began skiing with the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club (AVSC) when he was about 7 years old, said Eric Knight, AVSC freestyle program director. It was apparent from the beginning that Ferreira was a talented and motivated athlete, Knight said.
“Alex grew up going through all of our programs,” Knight said. “We knew from way back then he was destined for great things.”
When he was in his early teens he competed in mogul racing competitions with AVSC. As he got older, he followed his friend Torin Yater-Wallace, 17, into parks where he threw big tricks on rails and the halfpipe, Ferreira said. Since then, Ferreira made the U.S. Freeskiing Team.
Now that he has qualified to compete in the X Games, Ferreira hopes to follow in Yater-Wallace’s footsteps, who has made it to the podium four times.
While some athletes have competed in the X Games for nearly seven years and still haven’t won a medal, others — like Yater-Wallace — placed on their first try, Ferreira said. Ferreira hopes that will be the case for him, he said.
“I set my goals high,” he said.
Ferreira plans to repeat his winning Whistler run at the X Games, but he’ll likely go a little bigger, he said, adding that he is a little nervous.
“I’ve been waiting for this day my whole life,” Ferreira said. “But I’m ready.”
Meanwhile, having an AVSC athlete make it to the X Games is a big deal for the nonprofit organization, and AVSC staff will be cheering for Ferreira during the competition, Knight said.
“We’re super proud of him,” Knight said.