Alex Ferreira, of the United States, celebrates his victory in...

Alex Ferreira, of the United States, celebrates his victory in the World Cup men's freeski halfpipe event in Calgary, Alberta, Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024. Ferreira won every contest in the halfpipe this season. Credit: AP/Jeff McIntosh

Freestyle skier Alex Ferreira won every halfpipe contest he entered this season. His alter ego, “ Hotdog Hans,” won, too, by charming unsuspecting terrain-park visitors with his outlandish antics.

It was the perfect season of performing tricks and pulling pranks.

Dressed as “Hotdog Hans,” an 80-ish-year-old, wisecracking, beer-swilling ski bum, Ferreira creates all sorts of havoc on the slopes. The character has turned into a social-media sensation, too, known for stunts that defy his octogenarian-appearing age.

Behind the makeup and funny skits, though, is a driven Ferreira, a two-time Olympic medalist who’s coming off a season in which he went 7 for 7 in halfpipe contests. It was a winter when he was so locked in that he impressed even his harshest critic — himself.

“Sounds weird to say — I don’t usually say this about myself, ever — but I was very proud," the 29-year-old from Aspen, Colorado, said.

Now, the big questions: How does he maintain this sort of hot streak leading into the 2026 Milan-Cortina Olympics? And, will he ever catch up to the popularity of “Hotdog Hans,” the persona he created on a whim?

First question, first — the Olympics are pretty much all he thinks about. It’s what drives him. He will be looking to complete the Winter Games medal set after winning silver at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games and bronze four years later on a brutally cold and windy day in the mountains northwest of Beijing.

United States' Alex Ferreira competes during the men's FIS World...

United States' Alex Ferreira competes during the men's FIS World Cup freeski halfpipe final Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024, in Calgary, Alberta. Ferreira won every contest in the halfpipe this season. Credit: AP/Dave Chidley

“I’m going to dedicate every single day moving forward," he said, "to getting that Olympic gold."

That's a mission endorsed by "Hotdog Hans," who was “stripped” of his “1952 gold medal” for drinking too much “golden lager” — or so his fictional backstory goes. His alter ego is a colorful and artful soul, a reason why the prankster has gained around 226,000 followers on Instagram, while Ferreira checks in at more than 65K.

The idea was hatched by one of Ferreira’s buddies a few years ago to follow in the footsteps of NBA standout Kyrie Irving dressing up as the character “ Uncle Drew ” in a Pepsi promotion. Ferreira & Co. figured it would be cool to race around the terrain in Aspen and other parts of the world in full costume — complete with vintage clothing, beer can in hand — and shock the crowd with the character's salty disposition and stunning backflips.

“It’s nice to be able to just kind of relax and laugh a bit," explained Ferreira, who just returned from Switzerland where he filmed the latest installment of the “Hotdog Hans” series. "That’s what we were going for with him.”

United States' Alex Ferreira, center, who won, celebrates on the...

United States' Alex Ferreira, center, who won, celebrates on the podium with second-place Jon Sallinen, left, of Finland, and third-place Lee Seung-hun, of South Korea, in the men's FIS World Cup freeski halfpipe final Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024, in Calgary, Alberta. Ferreira won every contest in the halfpipe this season. Credit: AP/Dave Chidley

What he was going for himself was a perfect season.

Ferreira wasn't afraid to voice that goal to his longtime coach, Elana Chase, either, and his support team. By vocalizing the objective, it made him train even harder and focus on the little things — like not being late for anything, even a sauna session.

“You wake up in the morning and you say, ‘How do I want my life to go?’” Ferreira said. “I want my life to be in the cameras and on top of that podium."

His wins this season included the Secret Garden World Cup, Toyota U.S. Grand Prix, X Games, another U.S. Grand Prix, back-to-back Calgary Snow Rodeo events, and at the Dew Tour in Copper Mountain, Colorado, where he just may have had his most memorable run. He went switch left cork 1080 tail grab, into a right side double cork 1620 safety grab, into a left side cork 1080 tail grab, into a switch right double cork 1080 Japan grab, and finished with a left side double cork 1620 safety grab.

That translates into 18 rotations and eight flips in every direction. It's just the tip of the iceberg, too, as Ferreira and his team plan to raise the volume.

“The degree of difficulty is going to increase. The creativity is going to change. Because it’s a constantly moving sport,” said Chase, who first met Ferreira when he was 9 years old and jumping on a trampoline to practice his tricks. "So if you even have the audacity to try to do the same thing two years in a row, it’s not going to work for you.”

There was a time when Ferreira considered soccer his potential calling. Understandable given his father, Marcelo, was a professional player from Argentina. But the slopes beckoned Alex Ferreira.

Chase has been a driving force behind his success. She teaches him as much about double-corks as the importance of credit scores. They have honest conversations about winning, too.

“We can really get down to the nitty-gritty and discuss winning without thinking those superstitious thoughts,” said Ferreira, who in his spare time designs pickleball courts and teaches lessons. “There are no secrets to success. All the greats talk about it. They just get down to hard work.”

As his winning streak continued throughout the season, the pressure soared, too. That’s what made winning his final competition at Copper Mountain so special.

To celebrate, his mom made lasagna and he sat around chatting with family and friends. They played some Mario Kart, too.

Nice and mellow.

Soon after, it was back into the zany role of “Hotdog Hans" for some good-natured mischief on the slopes.

“It brings people so much joy,” Ferreira said. “We’re trying to give them the most funny vibes we can.”

More Olympics

SUBSCRIBE

Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months

ACT NOWSALE ENDS SOON | CANCEL ANYTIME