Nike U.S. Open Of Surfing: Men's No Losers Round of 24
It's Thursday at the Nike U.S. Open of Surfing and everybody's happy. The men, because they're surfing in the round of 24—the non-elimination bracket—where the winners skip a round and 2nd and 3rd get another chance to move forward tomorrow. No losers! The spectators, because since no one loses all the surfers go big—specifically Gabe Medina and Julian Wilson, who both posted high nine point rides to easily win their heats and take home the two highest heat totals of the event in the process. And lastly, the female teeny bopping fans—because when pro surfers are winners pro surfers are happy, meaning they took plenty of extra hours signing autographs and posing for Instagram uploads. Specifially John John Florence (he won his heat today anyway)—and immediately exited the water and took time to allow two young tiny bikini donned females on the beach shoot up close facials with him. The girls excitedly scampered away afterwards, waving their iphones to the heavens just begging for social media upload worthy cell signal. John John! A real photo with John John!
With a bump in the swell, the 2-3 foot south peaks were a welcome change from the last four days of dismal mushiness—today finally allowing a chance at more than one pump and the Huntington hop. MC Rockin Fig was fired up, even comparing the surf to Lower Tresles over the loud speaker, and then smartly rebuking his statement a few seconds later. "Well, not quite like Lowers…"
When Kelly Slater paddled out versus Yadin Nicol and Nathaniel Curran, the interior of tent city swelled forward and spilled out to the waters edge, the ballooning crowd eager to get a chance to see the champ compete live. Unfortunately for the Slater fans, Nathaniel Curran surfed a near perfect heat, easily scalping both Yadin and the Champ with an 18 plus point total. When the final horn blew, all three were swarmed regardless.
"Bra, it's heavy. It's like if you're surfing against Slater everyone just assumes you must be that good or something, " observes Sebastian "Seabass" Zietz, "When I lost yesterday, hordes of chicks came running out to me just because Kelly was in my heat, actually throwing their phone numbers at me in knee deep water. It was cool though [laughs]"
Of the eight heats in the round, five were won by Brazilian's—Jesse Mendes, Adriano De Souza, Gabriel Medina, Filipe Toledo, and Miguel Pupo; the Brazilian field dominating the day.
But with the likes of Kelly Slater, Brett Simpson, Dane Reynolds, Nathanial Curran, and John Florence still in the draw, there's a hard road ahead for any of hyper passionate contingent aiming to become the first U.S Open winner from Brazil.
Hang on folks; we've got four long days to go.—Zander Morton
19-year-old Keanu Asing is a fast rising junior from Oahu, and he's just started dabbling in the Men's WT qualifying events for the first time this year. A few months back, he placed third at the 6-Star Prime at Saquerema, Brazil—boosting him to 58th on the one world ranking heading into the U.S. Open. Although he lost in the quarters of the Juniors today, he's still in the main event; matched up with Pat Guadauskas in tomorrow's round of 24. We caught up with him for a quick chat about what this event means to him.
TransWorld SURF: What's been your best result at the U.S. Open?
Keanu Asing: I made the Semi Final's here last year in the juniors. This is my fourth U.S. Open but only my first time competing in the main event, so I'm pretty excited.
How hard is to focus on the task at hand with the maelstrom of madness surrounding you at all times?
It's crazy, trying to keep your focus. You just have to tune in to what you're trying to accomplish and black out everything else. Before my heats, I just pretend no one else is here.
Distractions aside, how do you feel competing in front of this massive crowd?
It's like being in an NBA arena with everyone watching. It's pretty unique; I don't think there is anywhere else like this. It's special, it's an honor. I've never surfed in an event this big before.
It must be nice to have a chance at a rare, clutch moment to turn a heat in the last second with everyone watching. Those are the moments we all love most about sports.
When you get those chances to grab that clutch score, it's huge. It's really hard to do. If you're a true competitor that's what you always strive to pull off. Sometimes in those situation's you can feed off the crowd, and it's fun to compete in front of them. With my third in a 6-Star Prime earlier this year, this event is a really big opportunity for me.
What would another third here mean to you? Could it set you up to potentially make a run towards the WT to start 2013?
It would mean the world. This is a hard comp; it feels like a WT event. I would kill to make the final [Laughs]. With a big result here, I could have a chance at the 2013 WT. That said, my goals right now are pretty limited. I didn't get a full year, so I'm more excited to carry my knowledge and momentum into next year.—Zander Morton
Boyz 2 Men
Kanoa Igarashi was met by a young crowd of excited boys when he entered the beach, victorious from a quarterfinals heat he navigated with confidence and ability well beyond his years.
But these were not fans. They weren't eager for t-shirt signings. These were friends. Eager only to hoist their childhood friend high above the crowd that now consumed their after school stomping grounds. Over the shouting and cheering and likely hazardous clouds of dust, a journalist told Kanoa that he looked pretty comfortable out there. Kanoa yelled back as he was carried away, "Yeah, I surf here everyday."
Day six of the 2012 US Open of Surfing saw a select group of boys delivered into surfing manhood. Four young surfers chosen by esteemed judges to be the bearers of radness in the semi finals of a contest that has brought global talent and a global audience to the shores of Huntington Beach, CA. Asked by all of us to continue what they have been doing so well- impress.
And Day six of the 2012 US Open of Surfing also saw good waves. "This is actually a really good day for Huntington Beach," says Kanoa. "I'd be psyched right now if I came down after school and saw this." Conner Coffin was another amongst those who manhandled his quarterfinals heat. He brought to the table the type of power surfing competitors can only hope to hang photos of on their bedroom walls.
"I've really just had one plan in every heat during this contest—just try to go out and get two good waves and some good turns," says Conner. "I think that's where judges have been giving out the best scores." Adopting this approach early in his heat, Conner moved on to the semi finals with unrivaled maturity.
"The waves just came to me," says Conner. "After my first two waves I just sat on the side and let the others battle it out. It's nice when the waves come to you- you can just cruise." The other two boys dominating their quarterfinal rounds and moving on to the semis were Felipe Toledo and Cooper Chapman. "But no rest for me," says Felipe. "I have to prepare for my Men's heat tomorrow. Preparing takes time." This coming weekend the stakes will be raised. The challenge will be proposed. And the only question that will remain is who will answer the call.—Alex Ryden
2012 Nike US Open of Surfing: Day 6 Women's Recap
The June (/July/August) gloom had a weird muffle effect on Huntington Beach this morning as the fourth round of women's competition unfolded with upset after upset. Or, what should have been upsets. The short round's results have dramatic implications, but top-fivers Tyler Wright and Steph Gilmore quietly–even acquiescently–went the way of the polar ice caps.
The Aussies were rocked by rookies Malia Manuel and Sage Erickson, ranked 7th and 16th respectively, in the first two heats. Sage noticed that the judges have been rewarding the men for well-executed two-turn rides and smartly adopted the tactic to earn herself an 8.07.
"It almost feels so surreal, because Steph Gilmore is our current 5-time world champ and I'm just a rookie on Tour," Sage said. "I was looking at it as if I had nothing to lose and everything to gain in that heat. Steph is such a well-rounded surfer and I'm just excited to make it one step closer to that final."
The [very] slightly beefed-up waves (2 to 4-foot) suited Coco Ho, who knocked out bestie Laura Enever in their first tête-à-tête. Coco's currently ranked 8th and Laura was 6th, so it was bound to happen sometime.
"We're best friends and this is the first time we've drawn each other since she's been on Tour with me. It's pretty crazy," Coco said. "But to have each other now, in the last event of the year, it was tough. I'm glad we weren't both in a situation where someone wasn't qualifying. It sucks that it came down to this event–we both want to do good and beat each other in the final, but we know that's how the story goes."
In the final women's heat of the day, Paige Hareb bumped Pauline Ado, who will fight for re-qualification on the WQS.—Casey Butler