The Book of John
Truth be told, it's about time. We were beginning to worry, really. John Florence (he's just John now by the way) had been a household name among surfers for more than a decade, and beginning in 2010, with a balls-to-the-wall performance at Pipeline and a praise-worthy performance at the Triple Crown, he's truly coming into his own this year. To be blunt, John's becoming a man.
When he first broke into the scene, he was fresh out of diapers and already paddling out in solid Pipe. Not yet striking a double-digit age bracket but still scoring sets, John had the admiration of the media well before Junior High. He graced the glossy pages of surf publications the world over, his blonde hair and tanned face a reflection of the picture perfcet grom. He was destined for great things, and even the likes of Slater touted his praise as "the next big thing."
And then something happened. To be more precise, nothing really happened. Yes, John continued to be in ads and have photos run, but there was something amiss. This Nordic-featured lad was supposed to be akin to the Second Coming of Christ in the surf world. He was ripping, no doubt, but we were left feeling a little empty. That was until about mid-November of this year when John's prowess at crippling Pipeline began to blitz through the coconut wireless. He was back on the radar, dominating flash players on the surf sites across the Internet. And it didn't stop there. Between his showings while in a jersey at Pipe this winter and his freesurfs at Off the Wall, it was like we were looking at a different surfer taking form before our eyes. A more, well, manly surfer. Now 17, John looks and surfs with all of the grit and poise that warrant the reputation of one of the top Hawaiian junior standouts. He's become the surfer we all thought he would be. The surfer we all knew he could become.
But talking to John, you get the feeling that he's oblivious to the hype, immune to the media and their critique and praise.
"I try and ignore the hype and block it out. You have to. Or it won't be fun anymore. You gotta stay humble," said John.
And as for the remainder of the year, what does John have in store? Will he beginning the steps to a taking his rightful seat on the World Tour? Well, yes, sort of.
"My goal is just to surf. Do what I've always done. Yeah, I'm going to do the 'QS, and when I turn 18 next year, that will become a top priority. Which will hopefully lead to the 'CT...but I just want to surf."