Homeboys: Ferreira, Yater-Wallace eye first Aspen X Games gold
Alex Ferreira said it would be the best day of his life.
Torin Yater-Wallace said it’s always in the back of their heads.
Yes, winning X Games gold in Aspen would be a big deal for the hometown boys.
“You are always creating the situation of what it would be like if success were to be a part of that upcoming week,” Yater-Wallace said. “It’s hard not to. But as much as you feel the expectation, like Alex said, you also feel tremendous support from the entire town, which is always a really cool thing to know they have your back.”
Aspen’s Ferreira, 22, and Basalt’s Yater-Wallace, 21, both Aspen High School graduates, are veteran X Games athletes competing in the ski superpipe. Aaron Blunck of Crested Butte is close friends with both and has spent a lot of time in Aspen. He also will compete in today’s men’s ski superpipe finals at Buttermilk.
The three have all experienced different levels of success in Aspen, the commonality a lack of gold in front of the hometown crowd.
“It would be so awesome because all of our friends are going to come home from their respective schools. All of our family is going to be there,” Ferreira said. “It’s not like people are expecting you to win. They want you to win, but if you don’t win they are still by your side. That’s really all that matters.”
Yater-Wallace, the most experienced of the three at X Games, also is the most accomplished. He does have three X Games gold medals to his name, but two came in Tignes, France (2012, 2013), and the third happened last year at X Games Oslo. He has two silvers in Aspen.
It’s been a few years since Yater-Wallace has been fully ready to compete, however. He missed X Games Aspen in 2015 after hitting his head in practice, and took fifth in 2016 despite having spent 10 days in a medical paralysis in November 2015 after developing a life-threatening case of strep.
“Last year was not comparable to anything I’ve ever gone through. I didn’t even expect to be able to ski at X Games; so doing it was a relief in itself,” Yater-Wallace said. “I feel great right now. It’s nice to feel great before Aspen X Games. I’ve had a decent amount of injuries and unlucky things, medically, to strike me in the past few years.”
Ferreira took third in Aspen back-to-back years (2014, 2015), and took second in X Games Oslo in 2016, falling short only to Yater-Wallace.
He said he tweaked his ankle a few weeks back, but otherwise looks to be in good shape heading into this year’s competition.
“I’m ready to rock. It’s going to be fun,” Ferreira said. “Getting past the bronze is a little difficult. Getting on the podium at this event is super hard. I just got to keep on charging and getting through it.”
Blunck has never finished on the podium at X Games, but agrees with the sentiment shared by Yater-Wallace and Ferreira, that any of the competitors can win on any given day.
“I like to set a lower expectation and see how it goes day by day and just hope for the best and expect the worst,” Blunck said. “The past couple of years it’s been who does the most technical tricks and who goes the biggest, but in the grand scheme of things, style I feel is the most important.”
The LifeProof Men’s Ski Superpipe Final is scheduled to begin at 8:30 p.m. today at Buttermilk. Among the competitors is three-time X Games gold medalist Kevin Rolland of France, the reigning X Games Aspen ski superpipe champion.
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