Pyeongchang, South Korea • Alex Ferreira is a sophomore at Westminster College, where he is majoring in finance.
The dividends from his latest investment?
That’d be Olympic silver.
Ferreira was part of a 1-2 U.S. finish in the men’s ski halfpipe finals on Thursday, grabbing a spot on the podium next to back-to-back gold medalist David Wise.
“I’m fired up, baby,” Ferreira said. “I’m so stoked, I’m so happy for my family to come out and all my best friends, for something so magical. I’ll never forget it. I’m unbelievably pumped, I’m elated.”
Ferreira scored a 96.0 in his second run and went into the third and final round as the leader. After falling twice in his first two runs, though, Wise earned a 97.2 on his final run to successfully defend his gold from Sochi.
“Today was just an amazing day of halfpipe skiing. Seeing Alex land his runs, all three runs, and the quals that he did, just inspired me,” Wise said. “… I’m honestly just in disbelief right now. Winning, losing, whatever, just the fact that I landed that run in the moment when it needed to happen, on that that third run, just felt so good.”
Ferreira, a 23-year-old from Aspen, Colo., upped his score to a 96.4 on his third run but wasn’t able to leapfrog his American teammate.
“My coach … and I that’s our main rule: never give up,” Ferreira said. “Never leave anything on the table, never let anything down. Always rise to potential, always rise to the occasion.”
Wise wiped out on his first two runs before sneaking past Ferreira on his third with a score of 97.20. Wise landed double corks in all four directions — front left, front right, switch (backward) left and switch right — a goal he set for himself entering these games.
It’s the seventh gold medal for the U.S. in Pyeongchang, five of which have come at Phoenix Snow Park. Chloe Kim and Shaun White won snowboard halfpipe gold last week, and Red Gerard and Jamie Anderson won at snowboard slopestyle.
The snowboard and freestyle skiing crews have picked up the slack for the U.S. team in these Olympics. Those competitors have accounted for 10 of the country’s 19 medals, many of them at the snow park located an hour away from the Gangneung Olympic Plaza.
Ferreira took silver, and 16-year-old Nico Porteous from New Zealand got bronze. It was the second medal of the day for the Kiwis after snowboarder Zoi Sadowski Synnott won bronze in big air to end New Zealand’s 26-year Winter Games drought.
Wise had a big cheering section of family and friends at the bottom of the halfpipe, and most of them had “David Wise” drawn on their faces. Wise’s sister, Christy, is an Air Force rescue pilot who lost a leg in a paddleboarding accident in 2015, and Wise is giving 10 percent of all his earnings this season to a foundation he and his sisters created: One Leg Up On Life.
The Americans had eyed a podium sweep in the halfpipe, with Torin Yater-Wallace and Aaron Blunck also among the favorites. Yater-Wallace failed to complete a clean run, including a gnarly crash midway through his third try, and finished ninth. Blunck’s best effort was an 84.80 on his final run, good for seventh.
The U.S. last swept a podium in Sochi, when Joss Christensen, Gus Kenworthy and Nick Goeppel won the men’s skiing slopestyle. The U.S. also swept the 2002 men’s snowboard halfpipe and the 1956 men’s figure skating.
The Associated Press contributed to this report