ASPEN - Two years ago, the Winter X Games watched an unknown teenager from the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club take silver in his first appearance in the games.
This year, there's another former AVSC athlete who received his first invitation to the Winter X Games.
Alex Ferreira, 18, has watched his training partner, Torin Yater-Wallace, claim medals at Buttermilk for the past two years, and he's relieved he finally has the chance to do that himself. The Aspen product won the North Face Park Pipe Open Series event in Whistler, British Columbia, last week, and while on the podium to receive his gold medal, he got the news.
"It was about three hours after I won the contest," Ferreira said Tuesday. " I was like, 'Oh my gosh, my dream came true.' I'm still on cloud nine, to tell you the truth."
Ferreira started skiing when he was 3 years old and joined AVSC when he was 8. He wasn't training for park events like the halfpipe at first, and then he and his friends saw Yater-Wallace soaring off jumps.
"We realized that could be a lot more fun," Ferreira said. "(Torin and I) somewhat motivated ourselves, and we've been competing ever since."
In May, Ferreira landed a spot on the U.S. Ski Team, and it seemed inevitable that he would be invited to the X Games. While he was proud to watch Yater-Wallace earn medals in the X Games, Ferreira thought he was in the same league.
"At the same time, I was bummed because I felt like I could compete with these guys," he said. "After that, I put a lot more time into it, and I turned on the hill a little bit more."
Admittedly, Ferreira didn't have tricks like his opponents'.
But now, he thinks anything is possible.
"I can go a lot bigger," Ferreira said. "I have big plans for this contest. I do feel like I'm the dark horse a little bit because I was the last person to receive an invitation. ... I'm just going to do my best like I've skied before."
If last week's win at Whistler is any indication of his ability, the superpipe at Buttermilk might know his name soon enough. Ferreira landed a corked 1080, a left double with a tail grab and a right-side 900 with a tail grab and ended with an alley-oop flat snow grab.
Competing under the lights before a national audience for the first time hasn't fazed him, either.
But first, he has to proceed through the elimination round, which begins at 10:30 a.m. today
"It's nerve-racking, but mainly I'm just so excited," Ferreira said. "This is what I've been waiting for for 18 years.