Jordy Smith, Nicola Atherton Win The Billabong ASP World Junior Championships

Billabong ASP World Junior Championships
(January 1-8 2007)

Check out the photo gallery and video

North Narrabeen, Australia (Sun. Jan 7, 2007) — A jubilant Jordy Smith from South Africa has emerged from the water at Narrabeen Beach, Sydney, Australia a world champion today after claiming a win in junior surfing’s most prestigious event — the Billabong ASP World Junior Championships.

Smith, a lanky naturalfooter from Durban made the most of everything that came his way throughout the day, and in the end held off a solid charge from 2003 winner and current Foster’s ASP World Tour number 20, Adriano de Souza in the 30-minute final.

Starting off slow with few quality set waves pushing into the Narrabeen arena, both surfers had only minor scores locked in, but as the final progressed both opened up with some big moves and in the end it was a nail biting finish as Smith hung on to the lead till the final hooter with de Souza snapping at his heels.

“It’s amazing. I’ve never really done well in this event so it was great to be able to pull off a win for my family and friends back home in South Africa, said Smith. “It all feels amazing right now but when it sinks in… I’ll let you know tomorrow!

Smith admitted that he really had to lift to get past de Souza who only needed just over a 6.0 to get past him. Smith also believed he was also helped when the wind swung offshore which prevented de Souza from launching his typically radical aerial turns.

“Adriano is a terrific surfer and I had to really step it up to go up against him, said Smith. “Luckily in some ways the wind changed so he couldn’t get the big ramps to launch airs, so yeah I’m happy to come out on top against him.

Traditionally Smith has struggled here at the Billabong ASP World Junior Championships but this year was showing a lot of confidence, which may have stemmed from his third place against the best in the world at Jeffreys Bay in 2006.

He will now focus on getting on top of the ASP World Qualifying Series so he can match it with the big boys in 2008.

“I’ve definitely got more confidence this year and I just went out there to free surf and luckily I came home with the win, said Smith. “To get on the Foster’s ASP World Tour is my goal for sure and I’d like to be on there next year so that’s going to be my focus… but right now I’m going to enjoy this moment. To be alongside your heroes like Andy Irons and Joel Parkinson is a dream come true.

For de Souza the second place was a solid start to 2007 and he indicated that it will give him motivation when his Foster’s ASP World Tour campaign resumes in just over a month’s time.

Interestingly de Souza still has one year remaining in the juniors and can come back to claim a second title in 2008.

“It was a good final and I’m stoked for Jordy right now, said de Souza. “It was good to start the year with a second so I’m happy. I still have another year left so hopefully I’ll get to come back to Narrabeen next year and do it for Brazil and win it for the second time. It’s great to get going and hopefully I can go further than last year on the first Foster’s ASP World Tour event on the Gold Coast where I finished in third last year.

Finishing in equal third place was Australian hopeful Matt Wilkinson.

The goofyfooter put on some of the event’s best performances in early rounds — in fact claiming the highest total of the event in his round four heat, an 18.37 out of 20.

But by his own admission he felt he might have peaked too early.

“Yeah I think I may have used up all my 9.0s yesterday unfortunately, said Wilkinson. “I just couldn’t find a steep wave through the whole semi out there this morning. I felt even with a minute to go I could have scored the 9.0 that was needed, because if you do one air and link together some dent turns the judges are throwing some big scores. I just couldn’t find the waves out there in the end.

He was however pleased with his overall result.

“The third place is definitely a confidence boost going into the ASP World Qualifying Series this year. The guys here have been surfing amazingly… I really wanted to win the event but I’m still happy to get third.

On being beaten by de Souza, Wilkinson took his hat off and tipped it for his foe.

“There was no one tougher to surf against than Adriano de Souza, said Wilkinson. “He’s an amazing competitor and an amazing surfer… he has a full arsenal of turns.”

Also finishing third was young Hawaiian Mason Ho who was elated to have ended up near the pointy end of the draw… Mainly because he can trump the bragging rights that his sister scored yesterday after also finishing equal third in the women’s.

“I’m just super stoked with the result, said Ho “I tied with my sister who got third in the girls so she can’t brag too much when we get home (laughs).

While Smith ran away with the semifinal Ho watched on in awe and joked that Smith surfed to his own strategy.

“I was talking to Jordy out there after I was watching him and I was saying to him, ‘that was what I wanted to do!’ laughed Ho. “You either go super-on like him or super-off like me but hey I’m stoked with the result.

The new Billabong ASP World Junior Champions will now stand alongside Layne Beachley (AUS) and Kelly Slater (USA) at the ASP World Champions Banquet to be held in late February.

Full results, audio downloads, athlete quotes and video highlights are all available on www.billabongpro.com

Final Results:

Quarterfinals:
Heat 1: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 15.67 def Hank Gaskell (HAW) 14.50
Heat 2: Adrian de Souza (BRA) 11.16 def Thiago Camarao (BRA) 5.33
Heat 3: Jordy Smith (AUS) 12.00 def Pierre-Valentin Lombard (FRA) 8.27
Heat 4: Mason Ho (HAW) 12.84 def Torrey Meister (HAW) 11.50

Semifinals:
Semi 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 14.40 def Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 10.50
Semi 2: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13.80 def Mason Ho (HAW) 4.20

Final: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13.84 def Adriano de Souza (BRA) 12.83

Nicola Atherton Claims Billabong ASP World Junior Women’s Crown

North Narrabeen, Australia (Sat. Jan 6, 2007) — After a putting a on a tremendous performance in the one metre (three foot) Narrabeen beach-breaks Nicola Atherton (AUS) has taken out the girls division of the most prestigious junior professional surfing event on the planet — the Billabong ASP World Junior Championships.

It was red letter day for the future of women’s surfing as the performance bar was raised dramatically as the two finalists went blow for blow, displaying that with their complete range of new school tricks and old school power carves they are in fact the real deal and will go on to conquer great heights.

For Atherton, who finished runner up to Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS) in the inaugural event last year it was a well deserved win as she notched up an 8.17 for throwing down some major turns.

From there she never looked in doubt as her foe Anali Gomez of Peru struggled to find a wave that would allow her to let loose.

“I’m just feeling relief at the moment! I can’t describe how good it feels, said a jubilant Atherton. “I don’t think it’s hit me yet. I’m just glad that it’s over and I did it and have got that thing off my back! I’m a world champion (laughs)… I set out to do this and have been thinking about it for six months. It is my last junior event and what a way to cap it off!

By taking the win Atherton follows in the footsteps of her good friend and current world number four Jessi Miley-Dyer who claimed victory here last year.

Both hail from the small Sydney beach of Bronte and Atherton claims that their upbringing and their rivalry has been the driving force behind their success.

“Bronte is a tiny beach yet we tend to breed a lot of good surfers, said Atherton. “It’s a small environment which in turn develops some good rivalries. Plus we’re surrounded by all the guys who always talk to us about our surfing, which amps us up. Jessi has always been an inspiration for me so to follow her in taking out this title feels amazing.

Of her fellow finalist Atherton was fully aware that she had to be on her toes right throughout the 30-minute affair.

Having surfed against Gomez in other events she expected the going to be tough despite Gomez’s relative anonymity.

“Anali is an amazing surfer, said Atherton. “Not many people know about her, yet she is capable of throwing down some 9.0 rides… I’ve seen her go mental on her backhand before… she’s a fantastic surfer and a great friend.

As for her being on stage at the ASP World Champions Banquet in just over a month’s time…

“I didn’t know I had to do that! squealed Atherton. “I’m going to be a mumbling mess when I have to stand on stage with Layne Beachley and Kelly Slater!

For Gomez, the runner-up finish is a career highlight and despite going so close but yet so far to getting a win she was overwhelmed with her result.

“I’m so happy, said Gomez who speaks little English. “I would like to say congratulations to Nicola… she did so well. Thank you very much Australia… I love it here.

Finishing in equal third was event favourite Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) and Hawaiian up and comer Coco Ho.

Both surfed exceptionally well throughout the early rounds and at the end of the day showed that if the waves had gone their way they were definitely title contenders.

Gilmore in particular was emotional about the semifinal defeat but was philosophical that in the end it would only make her hungrier for success.

“I was just floating around out there, said Gilmore. “I was undecided about whether to sit on the left or the rights so I sat in the middle like an idiot. But at the end of the day this will just me hungrier.

Ho meanwhile enjoyed her experience and with a few more years left in junior competition will no doubt gain confidence and in future go all the way.

“I really enjoyed coming here, said Ho. “And hopefully next time I’ll be a little stronger and will do a little better.

Semifinals:
Semifinal 1: Anali Gomez (PER) 9.84 def Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 9.73
Semifinal 2: Nicola Atherton (AUS) 10.67 def Coco Ho (HAW) 9.67

Final: Nicola Atherton (AUS) 11.84 def Anali Gomez (PER) 9.50

Final Team Results:

1st South America 2774
2nd Australasia 2486
3rd Hawaii 2474
4th Africa 2432
5th Europe 1967
6th Japan 1460
7th USA 1270
(Based on best 4 scores from each regional team not including international or wild card invites. Top 4 teams get 6 invites to next year’s events while other 3 only 5.)aid Atherton. “It’s a small environment which in turn develops some good rivalries. Plus we’re surrounded by all the guys who always talk to us about our surfing, which amps us up. Jessi has always been an inspiration for me so to follow her in taking out this title feels amazing.

Of her fellow finalist Atherton was fully aware that she had to be on her toes right throughout the 30-minute affair.

Having surfed against Gomez in other events she expected the going to be tough despite Gomez’s relative anonymity.

“Anali is an amazing surfer, said Atherton. “Not many people know about her, yet she is capable of throwing down some 9.0 rides… I’ve seen her go mental on her backhand before… she’s a fantastic surfer and a great friend.

As for her being on stage at the ASP World Champions Banquet in just over a month’s time…

“I didn’t know I had to do that! squealed Atherton. “I’m going to be a mumbling mess when I have to stand on stage with Layne Beachley and Kelly Slater!

For Gomez, the runner-up finish is a career highlight and despite going so close but yet so far to getting a win she was overwhelmed with her result.

“I’m so happy, said Gomez who speaks little English. “I would like to say congratulations to Nicola… she did so well. Thank you very much Australia… I love it here.

Finishing in equal third was event favourite Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) and Hawaiian up and comer Coco Ho.

Both surfed exceptionally well throughout the early rounds and at the end of the day showed that if the waves had gone their way they were definitely title contenders.

Gilmore in particular was emotional about the semifinal defeat but was philosophical that in the end it would only make her hungrier for success.

“I was just floating around out there, said Gilmore. “I was undecided about whether to sit on the left or the rights so I sat in the middle like an idiot. But at the end of the day this will just me hungrier.

Ho meanwhile enjoyed her experience and with a few more years left in junior competition will no doubt gain confidence and in future go all the way.

“I really enjoyed coming here, said Ho. “And hopefully next time I’ll be a little stronger and will do a little better.

Semifinals:
Semifinal 1: Anali Gomez (PER) 9.84 def Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 9.73
Semifinal 2: Nicola Atherton (AUS) 10.67 def Coco Ho (HAW) 9.67

Final: Nicola Atherton (AUS) 11.84 def Anali Gomez (PER) 9.50

Final Team Results:

1st South America 2774
2nd Australasia 2486
3rd Hawaii 2474
4th Africa 2432
5th Europe 1967
6th Japan 1460
7th USA 1270
(Based on best 4 scores from each regional team not including international or wild card invites. Top 4 teams get 6 invites to next year’s events while other 3 only 5.)