Video of Parko’s perfect 10 point ride at the Reef Hawaiian Pro (around the 2:58 mark)
The last three years of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing have been dominated by two people, Joel Parkinson and Stephanie Gilmore. Parko’s year was cut short earlier this year when he nearly sliced his heel off. When something vital to our selves is taken away it can create an even stronger lust when we gain it back. As Joel said in an interview on his website, “[the injury] Writes me off until the Triple Crown and Hawaii, and once I started surfing again (three of four weeks before I got here) that's all I was thinking of. I just wanted to get here to Hawaii and surf us much as I can. Not so much the Triple Crown and the contests were motivating me—it was simply getting back into the water.”
Parko’s win at the Reef Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa to kick off this year’s Triple Crown set the tone for his North Shore season. Though he didn’t make another final, his 9th place finish at the O’Neill World Cup at Sunset and 13th place finish at the Billabong Pipe Masters proved to be enough to hold on for his third consecutive Triple Crown title. Granted, we might not know what would have happened had Vans Triple Crown Rookie of the Year Julian Wilson gotten a slot into the Pipe Masters (he was only 26 points behind Parko going into the event). But that does not diminish Joel’s accomplishment yesterday.
As was the case for his two previous Triple Crown titles, Parko had to wait again this year at Pipe on other people to lose for the Triple Crown to actually be determined. This year, if Ace Buchan had topped Kelly Slater in the quarters and went on to win the event, it would’ve been Ace claiming his first Triple Crown title and not a three-peat for Parko. As Parko said on his website, “I feel bad cause Bucko's out there and he's one of the best blokes on tour and such a nice guy, and here I am throwing daggers at him hoping he's going to lose. I feel so guilty hoping Bucko is going to lose, but it is what it is. It's a competition.”
Though Parko seems to have had a few snags on the path to that elusive World Title the last two years, this year’s return from injury and straight onto the podium proves that Parko will be a favorite for the World Title next year. With new talent entering the World Tour ranks don’t think things will be easy for Parko though, or for any of the veterans for that matter. But I’ve got a hunch Parko will be putting the pedal to the metal training all winter, and when February rolls around he’ll be in top form for the kick start of the 2011 season at Snapper Rocks.—Ryan Brower