This isn’t really how it was supposed to happen. Kolohe Andino–not Heitor Alves–was the guy who would be breaking off Rodeo Flips (an inverted, corkscrewing 540 turn), among other progressive moves, to advance out of his early round heats on the ASP World Championship Tour.
But with the final seconds of their Round 2 heat ticking down yesterday, the Brazilian paddled into a small, wedgy right and unleashed a trick that stunned spectators, competitors, and commentators alike. The move earned him a 9.0 and the slimmest of victories. Alves should be applauded for his Hail Mary huck; his Rodeo Flip was nuts–spontaneous, clean, and radical with the tightly-coiled rotation of a gymnast.
It was not worthy of a heat win, however.
(Correct me if I’m wrong, but the last time a Rodeo was completed in a World Tour heat was Pat Gudauskas at Teahupoo back in 2010. Coincidentally, Pat G. received a 9.0 for his big F/S Slob air in his Round 2 heat Monday, too, but lost.)
All credit to Kolohe, who, at 18 years old and visibly disappointed, displayed grace and sportsmanship in defeat well beyond his years. Coach Snips would have to be proud.
And yet, it was what Kolohe almost said in his post-match interview that revealed the cracks in the system.
Twice he started to question the merits of a single-move heat winner before shifting gears and singing the praises of “hard working” Alves.
To be fair, Kolohe was probably underscored on his 6.43, but that would be splitting hairs. Because Kolohe’s underscored wave is a symptom of the problem the ASP faces, not the cause. Which is simple enough: context.
Despite the best of intentions, we humans cannot be completely objective. Which leaves the ASP Tour with a subjective judging panel striving for an impossible goal while effectively eliminating one huge asset…perspective. Within the framework of the heat, did Alves deserve the win? No, Kolohe was clearly the better surfer over the entire 35-minute heat. But Alves takes the win. So are we now reduced to throwing the baby out with the bathwater?
Listening to Rabbit Bartholomew commenting in the webcast booth after the heat you could hear the disdain, the grit of his teeth as he clenched down hard, fighting back the urge to tear into the judging panel.
He flatly called Alves’ heat–with the exception of the Rodeo Flip–a complete “disaster.” And Rabbit was right. Alves could not finish a wave properly, falling on nearly every ride, even the 9-point ride, which itself featured a foam-tap-to-face plant exit.
But, and here’s the rub, the judges had to give him the score. Why? Ironically enough, because the surfers asked for it. Within the system in place, the judges made the right call.
Now for some perspective, go watch Jeremy Flores’ 9.43 by clicking this link.
Speed, power and flow, variety, progression. Tick, tick, tick, tick. All the boxes checked on that one.
Alves’ wave doesn’t rate. It was the surfing equivalent of a desperate half-court shot in basketball. Yet, for all the noodling done to the criteria lately, the thing that seems to get left out is perspective. Plainly put, what’s getting lost is this question: Does it pass the eyeball test? This time, not even close.