Halfpipe skier Alex Ferreira receives his 2017-18 FIS crystal globe in Vail
A crystal globe, for many competitive skiers, is the ultimate accomplishment.
While an Olympic medal is earned for one good performance, a globe recognizes a full season of good skiing, and there’s no globe given out for second place.
In May, halfpipe skier Alex Ferreira finally got to add to his trophy case the crystal globe he earned this season. It was presented to him at the Ski & Snowboard Club Vail awards dinner on May 14.
Ferreira secured the globe with a second-place finish at World Cup finals on March 23 in Tignes, France, but continued to travel Europe for a month following the competition and was finally reunited with the globe in a special ceremony from Ski & Snowboard Club Vail.
The globe now sits in his room, in a trophy case next to his Olympic silver medal. Ferreira said the globe means more to him than the medal.
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“I think it’s a pretty high honor,” Ferreira said of the globe. “It’s about consistency with the globe, it’s not just one event.”
Ferreira’s 2017-18 season got off to a strong start when he won the first World Cup of the year in September in New Zealand. A few months later, however, things weren’t looking so good. Ferreira wasn’t thinking about a globe as his sole focus was to make the Olympics and after two of the five Olympic qualifiers, he still had not notched a podium as New Zealand wasn’t actually an Olympic qualifier.
“I broke my collar bone 6 weeks before the Copper Grand Prix, the second Olympic qualifier,” he said. “Of course, I’m extremely chapped, and frustrated … I got 12th, I didn’t even make finals, and there’s only three Olympic qualifiers left.”
Ferreira went on to finish first and second at the next two Olympic qualifiers and make the team. He also notched a second-place finish at the third and final Olympic qualifier — a U.S. only competition the resembled U.S. Nationals more than a World Cup — placing him well on his way to earning the crystal globe. But the globe was not on his mind at that point, with the Olympics coming up.
In Pyeongchang, he landed a run that contained nothing but double-inverted tricks, a first-ever accomplishment and a life-changing moment. It earned him the silver medal behind his teammate David Wise.
Following the Olympics, Ferreira and Wise enjoyed a month-long break from competition, but a final contest loomed on the calendar, the last World Cup event of the season in Tignes.
Burned out from the long season, Ferreira considered skipping the event, but only for a moment.
“There was only one way (to get the globe),” Ferreira said. “I had to battle it out with David Wise in Tignes.”
Wise wanted the globe, as well.
“I would say it was a friendly rivalry,” Ferreira said. “We both really wanted to win.”
Dropping into the halfpipe in Tignes, Ferreira had tricky light conditions, as the event was taking place at dusk.
He gave his coach a fist bump, followed by a head bump, and landed an abbreviated version of his Olympic run, with 720s where his double-inverted 1080s were in Pyeongchang.
It proved to be more than enough for the globe, as Wise struggled in finals, finishing 9th. Ferreira’s second place finish earned him a podium in Tignes and the crystal globe on the season.
“After the event, (Wise) came over and he shook my hand,” Ferreira said. “He said congratulations, I was very appreciative of that, and our friendship continues.”
SPORTSMANSHIP AND SHOWMANSHIP
Ferreira got to kiss his globe for a quick photo, but didn’t have it in his possession for long as he continued on a tour of the Alps, competing in a few non-International Ski Federation events including Laurent De Martin’s 7Peaks Riverstyle big air in Switzerland, the Freeski Playoffs and Pipe Ground in France.
The globe was flown back to the U.S. and Ferreira was finally reunited with it at the Ski & Snowboard Club Vail awards dinner.
At the event, Ferreira’s coach, Ski & Snowboard Club Vail freestyle program director Elana Chase, said Ferreira brought an infectious degree of energy to Ski & Snowboard Club Vail that season.
“When Alex came to the Vail freeski summer water ramp camp this last summer … he would shout things like ‘fire me up,’ and get all the other athletes to hike hard with him all session long,” Chase wrote. “Alex could be heard shouting ‘Let’s do this boys,’ — and he was talking about doing the dishes after the coaches cleared the meal.”
Ferreira said Chase put the “award” in awards dinner by arranging for him to receive his globe there at the event.
“This … FIS award … is rarely actually seen in person,” said event emcee J.C. Cole.
Leslie Tabor with Ski & Snowboard Club Vail donned white gloves to remove the globe from its protected case and present it to Ferreira.
“It’s the full Vanna White treatment we’re getting right here,” Cole said.
“Seeing Leslie put the white gloves on (unscripted) was truly priceless, funny, and carried real weight,” Chase wrote in an email.
Ferreira said he would expect no less from Chase, who he described as not only a master of sportsmanship, but of showmanship, as well.
“Elana is one of the most classy and most intelligent people I’ve ever met,” Ferreira said. “Just being around her is a special thing … one minute she’s teaching me how to establish credit, and the next minute she’s teaching me a doublecork 1260 tail grab.”
On Tuesday, May 22, the U.S. Freeski team announced its halfpipe pro team nominations for the 2018-19 season, with Ferreira joining seven other athletes on the list.
He said while life has changed a bit for him after becoming an Olympic medalist, many thing remain the same.
“I still feel like I have a lot left to accomplish in this sport,” he said.