Aspen’s Alex Ferreira finally wins X Games gold in ski pipe, holding off Wise

Alex Ferreira, who lives at the base of Aspen Highlands, pulled his back Thursday morning shoveling snow off his driveway. He claimed he could barely walk.

Later that night, the 24-year-old Aspen native dropped into the X Games superpipe and made a loud statement. Nearly as loud as the ruckus his substantial fan base was making in the corral at the bottom of the venue.

“I’ve just been trying to stay alive,” Ferreira joked, citing a “nasty virus” and hip injury during training as his other ongoing ailments. “It feels phenomenal. Absolutely elated right now. I’m just so happy I can’t even believe it. I’m so grateful and so, so happy.”

Ferreira’s first run Thursday set the tone and his final run closed the deal on his first X Games gold medal. Making his seventh appearance at X, Ferreira put together the performance of his lifetime to win the men’s ski superpipe contest at Buttermilk. It was his fourth X Games medal in Aspen, but his first win.

You can watch Ferreira’s run here.

“I was calling him Mr. Consistency all night,” said Nevada’s David Wise, who finished second behind Ferreira. “He is always trying to push it to the next level, do the next trick, do the next big thing the same way I am. It’s so cool to have a guy out here pushing me, forcing me to do bigger tricks. There were years where the run I did would have won it. But Alex put that out of my reach.”

Ferreira won X Games gold with a score of 92.66 on his third and final run. Wise, who is the two-time reigning Olympic gold medalist in the discipline, scored 90.33 on his final run, matching the score from Ferreira’s first run. Wise was the last person to drop in Thursday, and his final run made the wait uneasy for Ferreira, who was standing next to Wise at the base as they waited to see the score.

It was close, but not close enough for Wise, who has won X Games Aspen gold four times. For Ferreira, it was sheer elation.

“This is so amazing, and I’ll tell you why. Not just so much for me or my family, Alex really wanted to do this for Aspen,” said Colleen Delia, Ferreira’s mother. “He just loves Aspen so much. He just wanted to be there for his fans and his best friends in life. I actually don’t think he’s ever moving out of the house because he loves Aspen so much.”

Ferreira won Olympic silver in South Korea last winter, taking second to Wise and just edging out bronze medalist Nico Porteous of New Zealand, who also finished third in Thursday’s halfpipe competition.

Ferreira and Wise are close friends, going so far as getting tattoos together while in South Korea. Wise, who crashed on his first two runs Thursday, was more than happy to take silver. And he was more than happy to see Ferreira atop the podium.

“In Alex, I honestly feel I have a brother. He is not just a friend anymore,” Wise said. “We’ve been doing this for so long, and we have some similar mentalities. We have different styles of skiing, but we have really similar mentalities of approach to skiing.”

Entering his final run in first place, Ferreira still knew he had to send it. Wise was waiting in the wing with all the talent in the world to steal that gold medal from the local hero. So Ferreira left it all out there and became Aspen’s newest golden boy.

“I was thinking all-in. Put all my eggs in there, put all my thoughts, all my energy, all my heart, put it all in,” Ferreira said. “I feel pretty phenomenal right now. I don’t know if there is any comparison (with the Olympics). This is the most special night of my life, for sure.”

According to X Games, Ferreira is the first Aspen local to win gold in nine years. The last would have been snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler, who won the women’s superpipe contest in 2010, the final of her four X Games gold medals.

In attendance but not competing was Basalt’s Torin Yater-Wallace, a two-time Olympian and X Games mainstay, who is recovering from an injury suffered at Dew Tour in December.