At this point, listing John John Florence's accolades has become almost exhausting. Aside from his 2012 Rookie of the Year honors, the 20-year-old phenom, born and raised by the pack at Pipeline, has just capped off a three-year reign atop Hawaii's Volcom Pipe Pro podium. That's three years and counting without losing a single heat in this event.
Alongside Florence, the final four consisted of Josh Kerr, Chris Ward, and Olamana Eleogram. Josh Kerr has also cemented his pipeline legacy with his second consecutive final here in two months. Kerr placed second to newly crowned world champion Joel Parkinson back in December at the Billabong Pipe Masters. Not something we'd always expected out of a guy who burst onto the surfing scene because of his small-wave aerial game.
The Cinderella story of the event has to be Maui's Eleogram, who marched through a series of tough heats with some fantastic backdoor tubes. The newly engaged Ola has been threatening to break out of the Hawaii scene onto the world stage for a few years now, seemingly needing just a little push. Perhaps this result, and the 5-star points that go along with it, will be the jump start he needs in 2013.
Click here to read an interview with John John shortly after his victory by Surfer magazine.
Photo courtesy of Volcom.
1st: $20,000 - John John Florence - 16.33 points (8.43, 7.9)
2nd: $10,000 - Chris Ward - 14.8 (7.93, 6.87)
3rd: $6,500 - Josh Kerr - 13.83 (8.33, 5.5)
4th: $5,500 - Olamana Eleogram -- 13.3 (6.87, 6.43)
The evolution of John John Florence's physical, mental, and emotional status has been graphed by surfing's star-hungry industrial complex since the age of 8, when the tiny towhead first started turning heads at Pipeline.
While there's been no shortage of surfers being billed as "the future" in the decade since then, few (if any) ever come close to meeting expectations. Yet Florence, now a 20-year-old Hawaiian hero, is growing into the lofty role that his followers have always wanted: to lead the next generation of surf stars into the post-Slater era.
Given his competitive accomplishments in the past 18 months, it's safe to say Florence is assuming his position. After qualifying for the tour in 2011 he became the first ASP rookie to string together a legitimate title shot in 2012. He's already a Triple Crown winner, and yes, he's winning events on the world's biggest stage. But contest or not, a true testament to his place in our hearts was his debut appearance in the 2012 Surfer Poll awards, where he finished in the No. 2 slot, the highest rank ever for a first timer.
Of course, his latest video short, "Departure Delayed," reveals why his popularity is soaring. Sure the kid can surf heats, and he absolutely charges the heavy stuff like Pipe, Teahupoo, Waimea, and even Jaws. But he's also got one massive bag full of futuristic moves, including a well-rounded aerial attack that rivals even the best specialists.
But just in case you're still wondering if this kid has staying power, you may want to watch the below, because given the evidence presented, and all those graphs I mentioned earlier, there's a good chance this kid will own something very few ever have: that being the world title, and the mantle of also being considered the best free surfer in the world.
After two straight days of nearly contestable conditions at Supertubos in Portugal, we have only six heats run, and nearly 15 hours of being "on-hold" to show for it.
Monday afternoon, Portuguese time, saw Round three of competition called into action briefly, before the plug was pulled just two heats in due to small surf. It was enough time for young guns John John Florence and Gabe Medina to take decisive victories over elders Travis Logie and Brett Simpson. John John, however, was battling more than just his opponent.
Two days prior, while surfing a deadly slab in nearby Ericeira known as "the Cave," Florence was thrown on to the rocks after falling in a deep tube, sending him to the hospital with stitches needed in his head and cuts all over. "I've never hit the bottom that hard before in my life. Pretty scary at first but I healed pretty fast. Glad I didn't have to surf a heat yesterday," said Florence after his heat win.
Florence sits at fourth in the world rankings, and at this critical time in the year an early exit would have been a disaster for his title aspirations. Despite the pressure and injury, Florence was able to focus his energy to dispatch of his opponent with a textbook frontside air-reo.
With big swell and bad weather on the way to Peniche, the contest will likely be back on briefly tomorrow as contest director Damian Hardman will be trying to squeeze in as many heats as possible while conditions permit.
RIP CURL PRO PORTUGAL ROUND 3 RESULTS:
Heat 1: John John Florence (HAW) 10.17 def. Travis Logie (ZAF) 7.70
Heat 2: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 14.66 def. Brett Simpson (USA) 7.60
RIP CURL PRO PORTUGAL REMAINING ROUND 3 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 3: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. Kolohe Andino (USA)
Heat 4: Josh Kerr (AUS) vs. Alejo Muniz (BRA)
Heat 5: Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. C.J. Hobgood (USA)
Heat 6: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 7: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Raoni Monteiro (BRA)
Heat 8: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Michel Bourez (PYF)
Heat 9: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Kai Otton (AUS)
Heat 10: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Kieren Perrow (AUS)
Heat 11: Jeremy Flores (FRA) vs. Bede Durbidge (AUS)
Heat 12: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Yadin Nicol (AUS)
Dane Reynolds is back in the bright lights of the ASP World Tour in France, and the world's best part-time competitor is feeling right at home at the Quiksilver Pro thanks to La Graviere's punchy pits. The wave resembles a few that can be found near Reynold's Ventura, California, stomping grounds, so it's hardly surprising that Reynolds is ripping.
But a more welcome sight for Dane fans is the hunger he can't hide. Fact is, there's a lot of relevance riding on this Quik Pro performance. As much as we love to knock and mock contests, there's something undeniably irresistible about sending guys out in perfect pits for a half-hour and saying, "Show me what you can do."
Frankly, these days, it's the only real "on demand" content that counts. Why? Because there's something real riding on it: pride, peer pressure, and performances that count for something. And for Dane, who's chosen to lower his profile by walking away from full-time competition, each at bat he gets on this stage carries added significance.
Fact is, no blog, magazine, or webisode series can replace the large audience of the ASP World Tour, and Dane's multi-million dollar salary demands a steady, healthy-size audience. Should Reynolds clinch his first tour win in France, it'll be a complete validation of his career path, one that will keep the budgetary sharks at bay for at least a couple of months.
If he falls short, however, the boardroom discussions may get interesting.
There's arguably no better place for Dane than Hossegor. His powerful approach is perfectly suited to the conditions. And on Thursday fans were treated to one of the best ASP shows of the entire year, thanks to the likes of Dane, John John Florence, Joel Parkinson and Kelly Slater; each of whom represents a separate surfing era.
The Final Four at the Quik Pro France is the best collection of talent we could ask for. Shit, it's every surf fans' wet dream. And luckily for us, whether these guys want to admit it or not, they each have something huge at stake:
1.) Dane wants people to think he can still kick ass without caring.
2.) John John is trying to become the youngest world champion in history.
3.) Parko wants the world title monkey off his back after four runner-up runs.
4.) And Kelly, beyond just staying in the race, is trying to slay his French demons, for he hasn't won there since he had a full head of hair, and that was about seven world titles ago.
Don't be fooled, they all want this one.
Editor's note:Kelly Slater clinched his 50th ASP World Tour win Thursday by beating number 2 ranked Australian Joel Parkinson in the final. Slater defeated number 1 ranked Mick Fanning in the semifinal. The win lifted Slater to the number 3, just ahead of rookie John John Florence of Hawaii.
In sports, like life, progressive leaps rarely come at a steady pace. They comes in spurts---or rather---waves, like the huge wave rolling through the world of pro surfing right now thanks to a dynamic crop of teenage rookies who are smashing the barriers of aerial surfing with added amplitude, reverse rotations, and a variety of landing techniques. By pushing the degree of difficulty through the roof with their newfangled acrobatic aerials, they're forcing veterans like 11-time world champion Kelly Slater to adapt, or die. That's certainly been the case at this week's Hurley Pro taking place at Lower Trestles in San Clemente, California.
Two of today's brightest young aerial stars are 19-year-old Hawaiian John John Florence, and 18-year-old Brazilian Gabriel Medina. Both have made an immediate impact since qualifying for the ASP World Tour midway through last season, and a big reason why is their incredible bag of acrobatic moves.
Medina's aerial assault helped him become the fastest surfer to nab two ASP World Tour wins. He earned both victories in a span of four events, and he sailed past Slater more than once along the way.
One month later, Florence became the youngest surfer to win the prestigious Vans Triple Crown in Hawaii. He hasn't slowed since. Halfway through the 2012 season Florence is already ranked third in the world, one slot ahead of Slater, which puts the rookie squarely in the race for this year's world title.
The last time a rookie was in the running for an ASP world title was 1992, way back when guys like Magic, Jordan, and Bird were part of the Olympic Dream Team and Bill Clinton was campaigning for president. That was the year Florence was born. And that was the year Slater, as a 20-year-old rookie, clinched the first of his 11 world titles at Pipeline, right in baby John John's backyard.
That Slater has been able to fend off numerous waves of rookies in the two decades since then is one of the most remarkable feats in sports. What's especially impressive is his ability to adapt, and learn the new moves being brought to the forefront.
This year, a 40-year -old Slater will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of his first world title by trying to capture his 12th. And this week, Slater is vying for ASP World Tour win number 50 at Lower Trestles, the same hallowed surf break where he won his first pro contest back in 1990. He's also vying for his third-straight Hurley Pro title, having already clinched five of them since 2002.
Make no mistake, no athlete has dominated a discipline longer than Slater. Period. That's why he's entered the world's greatest athlete conversation.
But Slater will be the first to tell you he's got his back against the wall this year. While the rookies are constant threats, they've also raised the game of the more pliable veterans, including Aussies Joel Parkinson and two-time world champion Mick Fanning, who are blending the best of the old and new in their approaches.
With more than 20 years separating rookies and veterans on tour the variety of surfing approaches is as diverse as ever, making for one heck of a world title race and some very creative high performance surfing.
Photos: (Top to bottom) 18-year-old Gabriel Medina is the youngest surfer on the ASP tour, but his impact has been immediate and dramatic, much to the delight of surfing fans who hike one mile into San Onofre State park to watch the world's best surfers perform at Lower Trestles. Of course, nobody draws more fans than 11-time world champion Kelly Slater.