▶ Watch Video: China goes to extreme measures to keep COVID under control ahead of 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics

When Alex Ferreira was about 9 or 10 years old, he completed his first 360-spin while training on moguls in his hometown of Aspen, Colorado. It was then that the Olympic medalist decided he wanted to be a skier.

“I remember the day so clearly… I landed it and I’ve never felt such euphoria my life,” he told CBS News in an interview. “It was the most spectacular feeling I can ever remember. And I think I’m still just trying to chase that feeling.”

The 27-year-old has since earned several accolades in the sport. He won a silver medal in the men’s halfpipe at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics and placed first in the men’s ski superpipe in the 2019 and 2020 Winter X Games. He’s currently ranked No. 2 in the Ski Federation World Cup standings in the men’s free skiing category. And next month, he will make another Olympics appearance as a medal favorite.

But regardless of the high expectations he’s put on himself, he knows he’s put in the work. 

“I just want to do well,” Ferreira said. “I’m the most competitive person I know and I love skiing. So, everything that I’ve worked for, I’m hoping for and I’m excited to see unfold in front of my eyes in Beijing.”

Alex Ferreira is looking ahead to the Beijing Winter Olympics. 

Getty Images

He’s the son of Argentinian soccer player Marcelo Ferreira, who played for club powerhouse River Plate, and soccer overshadowed all other sports in his home growing up. His father wanted him to become a soccer player but Ferreira realized at a young age he “wasn’t as good as I needed to be.”

“I knew I wasn’t good at skiing either, but I knew I liked it enough to want to keep getting better,” he said, adding his parents were supportive of his participating in the sport.

After he won a silver medal four years ago, Ferreira said he was featured on the front page of an Argentinian newspaper.

“My dad couldn’t believe it. [He’s] like, ‘Oh, my God, I don’t think you realize how big of a deal this is,'” he said. 

His family in Argentina doesn’t fully understand the skiing lexicon or points system, but Ferreira said they know he’s done well when he does a pole spin. While he has plans to return to Argentina in the spring for the first time since he was in 8th grade, he first wants to make his loved ones proud in Beijing. 

“I’d like to represent my heritage well and represent my family well,” he said.

In preparation for Beijing, he’s made it a point to have a structured regimen. A typical day includes a 10-minute meditation when he gets up, a workout and physical therapy. He also uses the trampoline, does visualizations and visits a sports psychologist. 

Many athletes, including Olympians Simone Biles and Michael Phelps, have discussed the importance of mental health — and Ferreira said he needed to focus on his in the months after the Pyeongchang Olympics. 

“It was very difficult,” he said. “I thought that I was definitely going through a hard time myself, I didn’t know what I was going to do with the rest of my life.” 

But he said sticking to his routine, going to the gym and continuing to have fun “regardless if I’m gonna ski or not” helped him.

“The Ferrari,” as he is also known, admitted to sometimes being scared when he skis at high speeds and twirls in the air. He said his training is meant to minimize the risk and stay “focused on the moment.” 

“Some days, I’m very confident, but for the most part, I’m always on my toes,” Ferreira said. 

Alex Ferreira takes a practice run before competing in the men’s ski superpipe final during day 4 of the Dew Tour at Copper Mountain, Colorado in December 2021.

Getty Images

With the Beijing Olympics right around the corner, the threat of COVID-19 infections disrupting the Games looms. China has enforced strict lockdowns over the last month and even lined up Beijing residents for mandatory COVID-19 tests over the weekend. 

Many Olympians’ dreams are at risk if they test positive. Ferreira said he is fully vaccinated and isn’t afraid of getting the virus himself, but knows the potential “logistical” challenges ahead. 

“What I am concerned about is contracting the disease and not being able to compete, or contracting the disease and getting one of my teammates or one of the staff sick, in which case, other people cannot compete or be at the competition,” he said. 

Still, he keeps his eyes ahead and focuses on what he can control. 

“I just try and be the best person I can and be the best athlete I can be,” Ferreira said.