Inaugural USA Surf Team Brings Home Silver from Quiksilver ISA World Junior Surfing Championships in Tahiti

USA Juniors Exceed Expectations with 4 Individual Medals and Team Silver—Defeating 2003 Champion, Brazil

HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA — December 17, 2004 — The inaugural USA Surf Team has fulfilled its objective to improve America’s results on the world stage in a very big way. The young Americans placed second out of the twenty four competing nations at the Quiksilver ISA World Junior Surfing Championships to bring home the Silver Medal and make a bold statement to the global surfing community: America is back!

The 2004 USA Surf Team is the first team fielded by Surfing America since it was awarded National Governing Body (NGB) status by the International Surfing Association (ISA) in March. The ISA is recognized by the International Olympic Committee as the world governing authority for surfing and body boarding.

The USA Surf Team was selected by Surfing America through a process that involved the top surfing associations in the United States: The Eastern Surfing Association (ESA), the Hawaii Amateur Surfing Association (HASA), the National Scholastic Surfing Association (NSSA), and the Texas Gulf Surfing Association (TGSA). All of these organizations came together to back Surfing America’s bid for National Governing Body status and advanced their top athletes into the USA Championships held last summer. Another organization, the Western Surfing Association (WSA) has since joined Surfing America and will include its athletes in the process for 2005. Surfing America will select a new USA Surf Team annually.

“This is a historic achievement for competitive surfing in America, said Mike Gerard, Surfing America’s executive director. “It was clear to all we had the talent to do well if we brought all of the top organizations under one roof. But no one expected we would win the Silver Medal in our first year. This young Team rose to the occasion and performed brilliantly.

Prior to Surfing America’s involvement, the US program had sufferedincreasing criticism for several years due to poor results and a growing lack of support from the regional organizations. At the 2003 ISA World Junior Championships, the USA Team finished 10th. At the ISA World Surfing Games last March in Ecuador, the Team finished 19th. Surfing America took over the program immediately following the Ecuador event in March and selected this inaugural USA Surf Team in July.

“The previous US Team’s performance made it tough on us as the seeding into this year’s contest was based on last year’s results, said Gerard. “Because the USA Juniors finished 10th in 2003, we were seeded against the defending champion Brazilians straight away in the first round. Several of our kids were knocked down to the loser’s bracket as a result—but they maintained their composure, picked up the intensity, and clawed their way back to the final rounds.

Head Coach Peter “PT Townend’s straightforward approach effectively motivated the athletes and gave them confidence to express themselves freely through their surfing. His repeated mantra of “carve-flash-finish stuck as the Team battled their way through each heat of the contest. “These kids already know how to surf, said Coach PT. “I can’t teach them any maneuvers they don’t already know for themselves. What I can do is get them to focus and do what they do best. I knew if they could surf their best, we could earn a medal. Four individual medals and the Team silver medal proves that we showed up!

Four Individual Medals
The USA Surf Team’s four individual medals were spread through all three contest divisions: Boys Under 18, Boys Under 16, and Girls Under 18. Two of the USA medal winners were from the East Coast and two were from the West Coast.

Floridian Jeremy Johnston won a silver medal in the Boys-Under-18 division, defeating last year’s champion, Ben Dunn from Australia as well as Brazilian favorite, William Cardoso.

Karina Petroni, also from Florida, won a silver medal and CaliforniaErica Hosseini won a bronze in the Girls-Under-18 division behind gold medalist Stephanie Gilmore from Australia. The girls division was a field packed full of talent and provided some of the most exciting surfing of the contest.

Tanner Gudauskas from California won an Old Bronze medal (4th place) in the Boys-Under-16 division. After getting knocked down to the repercharge heats after the second qualifying round, Tanner fought his way back through six more heats—winning first place in four of them—to earn his medal slot in the final.

Other outstanding performances were put in by Alex Gray who finished 7th overall in the Boys-Under-18 division, Eric Geiselman who finished 8th in the Boys-Under-16 division, and Connie Arias, 13th in the Girls division.

Of the twelve USA athletes competing in the contest, eleven of them finished in the top twenty as individuals for their division.

Team Spirit Unleashed
Although four individuals won medals, the team worked as a unit and created an electrifying support system. Many of the athletes did not know their team mates well prior to the trip, but friendships developed quickly.

Most USA Surf Team members were given a nickname by their team mates: “Big Germ (Jeremy Johnston), “White Coco (Tanner Gudauskas), and “Nag Roots (Alex Gray). “Little Rocket was the title given to Christa Alves, Courtney Conlogue was dubbed “Little Flip, and Connie Arias was called “Cackle for her loud, somewhat obnoxious laugh that seemed to bellow endlessly from within the USA Surf Team tent on Day three of the contest. Dane Ward was “Baby Face, Lauren Sweeney was “Little Muffin, Kaimi Hui Hui was “Chaka Nutz, and girl’s team captain, Colleen Mehlberg was called “Captain by all.

“I’m certain the nicknames will stick, added Gerard. “It’s all part of the magic that made this Team successful. Sure, they performed incredibly well in the water—but the team spirit and bonding that took place between them was truly uplifting and inspiring for all. These kids are true team players, and if they represent the future of American surfing, that future is a bright one.

“This was the most incredible experience of my life, said boy’s captain Alex Gray. “Representing my country and carrying the American flag down the streets of Papenoo, Tahiti was something I never dreamed I would be able to do. I’m super stoked and honored to have had this opportunity to represent my country. It made me a better surfer and a better person.

Silver medalist Jeremy Johnston echoed Gray’s enthusiasm. “When I first got selected to the Team, I didn’t know what it was all about, he said. “But now, I can’t believe I had this chance. It was the best thing that ever happened to me.

“A successful USA Surf Team was the missing link in the USA system, said Gerard. “And it ultimately affects our performance on the ASP World Championship Pro Tour (WCT). We envision the USA Surf Team as an ongoing athlete development program. And it’s these kinds of experiences that will season our top amateurs for success before they head out onto the pro tour. PT calls it ‘developing their road game’ and his concept rings true. Surfing America would like to send thanks to all who have supported the effort so far. Without the official sponsors, donors, and media partners—as well as the combined efforts of ESA, HASA, NSSA, TGSA, and WSA—this success would not be possible. This success creates a solid platform on which to build our programs. Now the real work begins.

Final Results

Under 18 Boys Final
1st James Wood (Australia)
2nd Jeremy Johnston (USA – Florida)
3rd William Cardoso (Brazil)
4th Ben Dunn (Australia)

Under 18 Girls Final
1st Stephanie Gilmore (Australia)
2nd Karina Petroni (USA – Florida)
3rd Erica Hosseini (USA – California)
4th Jessi Miley-Dyer (Australia)

Under 16 Boys Final
1st Matt Wilkinson (Australia)
2nd Julian Wilson (Australia)
3rd Joan Duru (France)
4th Tanner Gudauskus (USA – California)

Team Rankings
1. Australia
2. USA
3. Brazil
4. Hawaii
5. South Africa
6. France
7. New Zealand
8. Tahiti
9. Peru
10. Portugal

Surfing America is an IRS recognized 501(c) 3 charitable organization. All donations made to Surfing America are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by the law. Donation checks should be made payable to: Surfing America, P.O. Box 309, Huntington Beach, CA 92648. End of year tax receipts are sent to every individual donor of more than $250. For donations under $250, a cancelled check or credit card statement is sufficient evidence for IRS purposes. Surfing America will send a tax receipt to any donor who requests one.
4th Tanner Gudauskus (USA – California)

Team Rankings
1. Australia
2. USA
3. Brazil
4. Hawaii
5. South Africa
6. France
7. New Zealand
8. Tahiti
9. Peru
10. Portugal

Surfing America is an IRS recognized 501(c) 3 charitable organization. All donations made to Surfing America are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by the law. Donation checks should be made payable to: Surfing America, P.O. Box 309, Huntington Beach, CA 92648. End of year tax receipts are sent to every individual donor of more than $250. For donations under $250, a cancelled check or credit card statement is sufficient evidence for IRS purposes. Surfing America will send a tax receipt to any donor who requests one.