Latest Marcelo Ferreira News
Feb 22, 2018
BONGPYEONG, South Korea — On the morning he would ski in the Olympic halfpipe, Alex Ferreira got inspiration from Bon Jovi and advice from his father. His favorite old-school singer always pumps up the 23-year-old freestyle skier from Aspen. His father always offers sage paternal advice. “Don’t stink your pants. Don’t be like your father,” Marcelo Ferreira told his son. “Be classy. Touch the snow. Just execute.” What’s it like to watch a child spin and tumble and fly above the snow, with the world watching and an Olympic medal on the line? As Alex Ferreira won a silver medal on a crisp, glorious Thursday in the Taebaek Mountains, I stood alongside his father in Phoenix Park, as Marcelo started the biggest party in South Korea. He laughed. He sang. He lived on a prayer. He borrowed a huge cowbell from a stranger from Switzerland. And after pumping up the volume past 10, Ferreira spontaneously recruited 50 students from an elementary school in Seoul and made them noisy cheerleaders. “My friends tell me Aspen feels deserted. Nobody is on the street. Everybody is at home watching on TV,” Marcelo Ferreira said, as his son prepared to drop in the pipe for the first of three runs, “This is the day that could change his life. No pressure. Just execute.” At age 58, he felt as giddy as a teenager. Marcelo Ferreira is from Argentina and was an accomplished soccer player that turned pro at age 17. So he knows something about Olympic-sized pressure. Let’s Talk Olympics “My first game as a pro, I was in the tunnel of a stadium in Buenos Aires. There were 50,000 people in the stands, and they all wanted to kill me,” Marcelo Ferreira recalled. “One of my teammates, our superstar, came up to me and said: ‘You stink.’ ” It was not a comment on his skill, but his hygiene. Prior to the biggest athletic moment of his young life, Marcelo soiled himself. From that day forward, he vowed never to be nervous for any competition from the moment his cleats first touched the grass of a soccer pitch. Although the father of a skier capable of executing tricks as wild as the imagination dares to fly, Marcelo Ferreira does not know any of the double-cork, mute-grab lingo of the sport. So, before every halfpipe competition, his one piece of skiing advice is: “Touch the snow.” No problem, Pops. Your kid soared like an eagle and stomped tricks like a boss. “I’m back, baby, I’m back!” Alex Ferreira declared, after flying atop the leader board with an amazing second run. “Please,” Marcelo Ferreira begged, wrapping me in a bear hug and lifted me 2 feet off the ground after his kid scored 96.00 to take over first place midway through the competition. “If I get so nervous I need an ambulance, will you call one for me?” At an Olympics where the locals have been golf-clap polite at events where no South Korean athletes were entered, Marcelo Ferreira was a pied-piper to kids from Sang Cheon Elementary School, up from Seoul on a field trip to the Winter Games. None of them knew Ferreira or Spanish until he demanded they learn the “Ole, Ole, Ole!” soccer song, with the refrain “Alex, Alex, Alex!” It was one of those happy, cross-cultural, buy-the-world-a-Coke moments that can make even a curmudgeon fall in love with the Olympics all over again. At the outset of Round 3, American David Wise finally landed a run full of his gravity-defying shots up the elevator shaft. The judges rewarded him with a score of 97.20. Alex Ferreira had one more shot to steal back gold, but would need the miracle of perfection, without a single wobble, to do it. “We’ve got a medal. Now let’s go get gold. We need a 99. And the birds have to take him to fly,” declared his father, praying aloud. His son’s final run was a thing of beauty. One landing, however, was less than a perfect 10. After an agonizing wait, the scoreboard flashed the score: 96.40. Oh, so close. Fantastic. But silver, not gold. Marcelo Ferreira squeezed the South Korean students a little closer to his chest, dropped his head in a brief moment of disappointment, then said: “Excuse me. But I think I need to go give his mom a hug now.” Related Articles February 21, 2018, 6:27 pm Gibbs is not only an Olympic fairy tale come true, she’s also the perfect antidote to Swaney. 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