Just a few months ago Hawaiian surfing phenomenon John John Florence suffered a brutal ankle injury as a result of a radical aerial maneuver gone wrong. The horrific landing forced him to withdraw from the first three World Tour events of the season. Almost immediately afterward “experts” pondered whether Florence would have to change his approach when and if he ever made it back. Like NFL quarterback Robert Griffin III, he doesn’t like to be tethered to the safety of the pocket, which is risky behavior regardless of the sport. But on Tuesday at the Oakley Pro Bali, Florence, who was the 2012 ASP Rookie of the Year, made it perfectly clear that he has no plans to lower his altitude. During the opening round at Keramas, he pulled what was immediately called the biggest aerial in ASP surfing history. He launched 8 feet above the lip while rotating a full 360 degrees before sticking the landing.
The single maneuver earned Florence a perfect 10 from the judges, propelling him directly to the third round. Of course, he has a long way to go if he wants back in the hunt for the world title, but moves like this are just one reason why Florence is considered the hottest arrival on tour in 20 years, when a young Kelly Slater arrived on the scene.