By Dan Guttenplan
---- — AMESBURY -- Dylan Ferguson has waited four years for another crack at the Olympic Games.
The aerial skier from Amesbury will have that chance starting next Saturday night when the first of five qualifiers for the 2014 Olympic Games is held in Beida Lake, China. Ferguson, who earned a spot on the 2010 United States Olympic men’s freestyle ski team before withdrawing due to series of stomach infections in the leadup to the Games, will enter the World Cup season as the top-ranked men’s aerial skier in the nation.
“It’s been a rewarding four years,” Ferguson said. “It feels like yesterday that I missed out on Vancouver (British Columbia); it definitely went by fast. I had some awesome seasons in between Vancouver and now. I’ve had great results and grown as an athlete both physically and mentally.”
Ferguson has spent the last four years training in his new hometown of Park City, Utah, with the national freestyle ski team. Taking advantage of all the resources the United States national team offers, Ferguson has climbed to top of the sport. He currently ranks fourth in the world among men’s aerial skiers, and has earned multiple trips to the podium at World Cup events.
“I feel awesome right now; my training’s going great,” Ferguson said. “I spent the entire summer training in Park City on water ramps, getting strong in the gym. I work with a sports psychologist to get mentally ready.”
Unlike in 2010 when Ferguson would occasionally break into the top 10 at international competitions, he is now one of the most consistent top finishers in World Cup events. He has been ranked No. 1 among American men for the last three years. Yesterday, he was named as the top men’s aerial skier on the 2014 United States national team.
“I feel a lot more prepared,” Ferguson said. “I feel like I’m at the top of my game. I’d like to think I was in the running for a podium finish in 2010, but that’s probably not how it was going to go. I hadn’t had great results with the tricks I was doing. I was definitely not in my prime back then. I was the second guy chosen, but I felt there were three guys who could have been selected ahead of me.”
Based on the degree of difficulty of his program, Ferguson is a near lock to make the Olympic team as long as he lands his three jumps at two or three of the five qualifiers. He is in a small group of six to 10 aerial skiers in the world who have three different jumps capable of earning high enough scores to secure a spot on the podium in Sochi, Russia, the site of the 2014 Olympic Games.
“There’s a lot of guys that could be on the podium,” Ferguson said. “You have to have three really good tricks. A lot of guys have two. That’s great when you’re trying to make it through the first two rounds, but if you don’t have that third trick, it’s hard to beat the guys on the podium. The strategy is interesting to see who makes it to the final round and what trick they saved.”
The Dylan Ferguson Show Name: Dylan Ferguson Age: 25 Sport: Freestyle Skiing Birthplace: Amesbury Residence: Park City, Utah Standing: No. 1 ranked men's aerial skier in the United States What's next: Olympic qualifiers starting next weekend in China