Ben Ferguson is what you’d call a snowboarder’s snowboarder. The 24-year-old Bend, Oregon native may be best known for his prowess in icy, 20-foot halfpipes. But at his core, Ferguson is a powder hound who dreams of bottomless days, charging with a few of his closest friends.
When we sat down recently at the 2019 Burton US Open, Ferguson spoke about the future of his career with a level of elevated foresight one might expect from a rider pushing 40 – not someone barely edging into their mid-20s.
In not so many words, Ferguson reflected on the numerous highs of his competitive career – including countless podiums and an Olympic appearance in Pyeongchang in 2018. But also, his shifting focus as he evolves as a person and snowboarder.
“It’s gotten to a point with these contests where the tricks are getting insane and I don’t really know if I wanna do those crazy tricks in this icy halfpipe,” Ferguson told me. “I’d rather figure out how to read a mountain and hit this certain natural hit and do some crazy trick on that instead of pushing it in the halfpipe, going back and forth kinda like Groundhog Day.”
For Ferguson, a return to building big booters in the backcountry and riding pow is a reflection of his Mt. Bachelor upbringing – a place where he rode his first halfpipe, that he calls “sort of dinky.” Bachelor averages 462 inches of snow a year and is renowned for its surf-able wind lips. Growing up, whenever it snowed Ferguson and his friends could be found not in the park–but riding pow.
“I’ve heard Gerry [Lopez] say that the front side of the mountain is all lefts and the backside is all rights,” he said. “It definitely made me the rider I am today.”
These days it’s not uncommon for snowboarders to be pigeon-holed into a specialization – choosing a path like slopestyle, halfpipe, or backcountry riding and sticking with it until they flame out. But, when Ferguson was coming up it was the riders that were comfortable in anything that he looked up to, and that’s precisely what he intends to emulate now.
“The dudes I looked up to that were badass snowboarders back in the day, and still are, are just snowboarders. They’re not halfpipe snowboarders or slopestyle snowboarders,” he said.
At the moment, Ferguson is pouring his heart and soul into a project called Joy, ironically, alongside Red Gerard, Sage Kotsenburg and friends that’s set to drop this fall.
I can’t wait. Check out the trailer below. It’ll knock your socks off.