Aspen freestyle skier Alex Ferreira hopes to carry hot streak into Olympics | SierraSun.com

Aspen freestyle skier Alex Ferreira hopes to carry hot streak into Olympics

Austin Colbert
The Aspen Times

Alex Ferreira has had two very different trips to New Zealand this fall. There was the one in early September, where the Aspen native edged France's Kevin Rolland to win the first ski halfpipe World Cup event of the 2018 season. Then there was the return trip a little over a month later when he broke his clavicle while training.

Seemingly healthy again, Ferreira is hoping his season goes more like the first trip. Last winter, it was more like the latter.

"This is a big winter," Ferreira said earlier this fall while home in Aspen. "It's an Olympic year. Everyone is super excited and fighting for those four spots to go for America."

Ferreira, 23, has never competed in the Olympics. The U.S. only sends four men and four women per discipline, and four years ago Ferreira ended up fifth in the pecking order for the 2014 Games in Sochi. However, this winter is setting up to be different.

Not only did Ferreira win the first World Cup of the season, he won the final World Cup of the 2017 season to give him two victories in a row. Now, it'll be about repeating that success over the four remaining Olympic qualifiers, one of which will be hosted by Snowmass in January.

"I'm on a roll. I just want to keep the good times going and keep having a great time. I'm loving skiing right now," Ferreira said. "It's always been a dream to go to the Olympics since I was a kid, so I think it would be great."

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Ferreira is a Winter X Games veteran, so he's been on the big stage plenty. But unlike two of his best friends — Aspen's Torin Yater-Wallace and Crested Butte's Aaron Blunck, both 2014 Olympians — he hasn't seen a lot of success at the highest levels.

He took silver in X Games Oslo in 2016 in ski superpipe, losing to Yater-Wallace, and has a pair of bronze medals in 2014 and 2015 from X Games Aspen, but is still waiting to hit the grand stage like his friends.

Yater-Wallace is considered to be one of the country's best freestyle skiers. He won gold in the ski superpipe at X Games Tignes in 2013 and X Games Oslo in 2016, although he's never done better than silver at X Games Aspen. Blunck broke through by winning X Games Aspen gold in January.

Blunck finished seventh at the Sochi Games, while an injury hindered Yater-Wallace failed to qualify for the finals.

Ferreira was a late scratch at X Games Aspen in 2017 because of a bum ankle. His injury also caused him to miss the first Olympic qualifier in Mammoth last winter, won by Yater-Wallace.

"That was tough, but you got to overcome adversity and everything is going to work out," the eternally upbeat Ferreira said. "My best friends, going and traveling around the world with them already, going to the Olympics with them would be something to remember forever."

If Ferreira can keep it up, achieving that dream of going to the Olympics with his friends might become reality. Copper Mountain is scheduled to host the next Olympic qualifier for ski halfpipe Dec. 9, with the Dew Tour in Breckenridge hosting another Dec. 16.

Then the action turns to Snowmass, which in its 50th year will host a Grand Prix and Olympic qualifier from Jan. 10 to 14. Disciplines include both ski and snowboard slopestyle and halfpipe, with the ski halfpipe finals scheduled for Jan. 12. Mammoth Mountain in California hosts the final Olympic qualifier Jan. 19.

X Games Aspen is scheduled for Jan. 25 to 28, although as it's not an Olympic qualifier and comes roughly two weeks before the start of the Olympics in South Korea. Questions remain about who will attend.

Other than Ferreira, of course.

"For me personally, it's always been a dream of mine to win X Games, so I'm 100 percent going to do it," Ferreira said.

acolbert@aspentimes.com