Canada’s Ferreira Is on a Mission

Canada's Ben Ferreira hoped to get back on track this season after finishing only fifth at the 2002 Canadian Figure Skating Championships.

Canada’s Ben Ferreira hoped to get back on track this season after finishing only fifth at the 2002 Canadian Figure Skating Championships. Having finished third the previous two years, Ferreira thought a change of venue might jump start his career so he moved to the Mariposa School of Skating in Barrie, Ontario, to work with coach Doug Leigh. This was his seventh year in senior men’s at Canadians, where he has never finished lower than seventh. He has finished ninth and tenth at the Four Continents Championships and 15th and 19th at the World Championships. At the 2003 Canadians this week, Ferreira won the short program but finished fourth overall after the long.

Ferreira didn’t begin skating until he was 12. His family joined the Royal Glenora Club in Edmonton so his two sisters could skate there. He went to the club with his mother before to school to watch them and eventually decided to give it a try himself. “I enjoyed skating on a pond when I was younger,” he said, “so I thought I’d give it a try and here I am. I liked the jumps and watching Kurt Browning at the club. When I started landing jumps like the Axel, I figured I had some talent. It’s a challenging sport for an individual, where you can really push your boundaries. Ferreira landed his first triple salchow and triple toe loop, sixteen when he landed his first triple Axel, and his first quad at 20. “I landed the first ever triple Axel in the short in juniors at Canadians in 1996, a triple Axel/double toe combination,” he said. “I’m pretty proud of that.”

Ferreira works on ice for an hour each morning and afternoon, doing full run-throughs of both programs each day. He trains for about three hours a day off ice, including strength and weight training, abdominal work, and cardio sprints. “Anna Ross has a good off ice program for us at Mariposa,” he said. “She motivates you to do things. I’ve kept in good shape. I do a lot of high rep, low weight training to build endurance and maintain core strength.”

Ferreira’s choreographers include David Wilson, Sebastian Britten, and Jadene Fullen. His short is “Happy Feet Blues” by Wynton Marsalis and the long is from the “Durango” soundtrack by Mark McKenzie. “I got the music from Lenore Kay in Newmarket,” he said. “For the short, I wanted something upbeat and fun. For the long, I wanted something to show a nice strong line. It has an Irish theme with a nice slow part that gives me a connection between the ice and the music. It’s a different program for me. I’m trying to become more versatile in my choices. There’s so much to choose from.” He also does a show program to Frank Sinatra, choreographed by Fullen, his fiancée.

Following in the footsteps of Canadian world champion, Elvis Stojko, Ferreira has been working hard on perfecting his quadruple toe loop. “I’m still working on it,” he said. “Last year I was playing catch-up on it, trying to get the rhythm and timing right. It’s a challenging jump. I’m landing it about half the time. But I’m a young guy with a lot of athletic ability so I’ve got time.” Ferreira is confident that he can land the jump in competition. “I’m going to go for the quad toe in the short,” he said. “And the triple Axel/triple toe. I’m on a mission.”

As for his goals, Ferreira said, “I’m trying to make the 2006 Olympic team. That’s my goal and I’m not wavering from that. I’m putting all I can into it. Success has an entry fee and that is commitment. I’m putting all of my eggs into one basket.” Because of that commitment, Ferreira is not currently working or studying, but he has some ideas of what he would like to do after he finishes competing.

“Coaching is one avenue I could pursue,” he said. “I’ve taught skating a bit and I enjoy working with kids. When you teach, you know what they feel because you felt it yourself ten years ago. I may pursue other dreams. I intend to go to the university. I’m interested in business and I enjoy reading about it. I listen to audiotapes on business and personal growth. I also like books on the human spirit, overcoming adversities. Sometimes the business books are tough. There’s a lot of lingo. I’m moving up the scale of my own development, trying to run a tight business and sell myself and my possibilities. I need to find an area that will light the same passion I have for skating.”

Unlike many of today’s skating stars, Ferreira doesn’t fill his off-season with tours. “I don’t do a lot of shows in the summer,” he said. “I’d rather stick with my own things and get better so I can do the best possible. I try to get a lot of rest and relaxation,” he said. “It’s as much important as on ice training.” Other than reading, he enjoys going to the beach on weekends, listening to 70s and 80s music, and doing different things with his girlfriend. Much of his favorite traveling has been on his parents’ sailboat, sailing around the Caribbean and the Florida Keys, but he also enjoyed Japan. “Japan really impressed me,” he said. “It was a nice society with a lot of good values.”

As for other sports, he stated, “I’ve tried a lot of individual sports, like golf, but I’m not much for teams ports.” He doesn’t collect anything and donates the toys he receives to local hospitals. Ferreira said he uses his computer to surf a little bit and for email, but plans to take some courses for business. “I want to be on top of the game when I exit this arena,” he added.

Since he has asthma and food allergies, he serves as the Medic Alert spokesperson, encouraging people to wear the Medic Alert bracelets. He also helps the lung association and hopes to work with the asthma society later, perhaps something to benefit asthmatic athletes, who have an extra challenge especially in arenas where smoking is prevalent.

For now, Ferreira is enjoying the competitive season. “I just enjoy the sport and everything I get in it,” he said. “I like pushing myself forward. Looking at the big picture, I’m part of something special.”

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