Nike U.S. Open Of Surfing: Men's Elimination Round Of 24
Just as the ugly south wind chop and morning gloom faded, Kelly Slater paddled out versus Stu Kennedy and straight into the wave of the day—a shoulder high pier bowl left. He sliced through a backhand speed turn and backed it up with a rock and roll foam climb floater to the tune of 9.2 points. "Bra, that score was straight out of 1992," Keanu Asing joked to Gabriel Medina, both sussing the shifty lineup in preparation for their own upcoming heats. Although he's right, the score seemed a tad high— when all Stu could muster in 20 minutes was a 7.3 for a backside 360—Slater's average 6-point backup comfortably saw him through to the next round.
In the following heat Yadin Nicol matched up with Dane Reynolds—and both went to the air straightaway, hunting pier bowl rights and hucking unsuccessful full rotators. Having just watched each other's parts at last night's highly anticipated Dear Suburbia premiere on Main Street, they appeared to hit the water intent to continue the highflying show. Unfortunately the crowd wasn't treated to any spectacular makes, but Dane easily stood above the field as the best surfer of the morning—looking especially impressive when he smartly smashed two lefthanders after abandoning the air game that wasn't clicking. With that strategy, he easily took the heat. Dane Reynolds showing competitive savvy? Might this be the event he finally wins?
Okay, lets not get ahead of ourselves. He still has to focus amidst a whirlwind of HB fans and an induction into the Hall of Fame today, so let's let this thing play out.
In the seventh heat of the round, in slightly wind tattered high tide Huntington—Keanu Asing continued his dream run by overtaking Pat Gudauskas, moving on to the Round of 16 in the process and guaranteeing himself at least a 9th place result in the biggest event of his career. At the moment, Keanu is carrying a lot of momentum. "Last night I met Shane Victorino at Dukes [MLB player for the LA Dodger's], and when I went to pay my tab he had already picked it up." Said Keanu before his heat, and continued: "I went to thank him, and he was so cool, and just told me, 'I watched your heat today and you were ripping, keep flying that Hawaiian flag!'" With the support of his family, major league baseball stars, and everyone in Hawaii, Keanu is one to watch in the coming days. You've been warned.
Another surfer who's been silently surprising people in a colored jersey is Mitch Coleborn—who until today had been on a tear in this event. Unfortunately, against Nat Young, his roll came to a screeching halt when he couldn't find any quality waves. Regardless, his surfing in HB is looking especially sharp—and his goal of qualifying still very much in reach. Even more impressive, he's been on point in the water despite just returning from a TransWorld SURF Indo trip that saw him get five stitches in the arm, and even worse—one week prior he had staph infection cut out of his ankle. Needless to say, he hasn't had the opportunity to practice much. "It's my dream to make the tour, for sure," Mitch told me on our trip, "But this year I'm only getting started, really. Just feeling the tour out."
Although Mitch's immediate goal of winning the U.S. Open has been dashed, sixteen others still have the opportunity to leave this hectic event on top. Will we see hometown hero Brett Simpson take home his third massive win here? A Kelly Slater repeat? Or how about the first U.S. Open champ from Brazil? —Zander Morton
The Ladies' Quarters
Technically, Friday is a weekday, yeah? I realize that for half-naked 15-year-olds, few places on Earth are more alluring than the US Open, but at noon on a weekday–even when Kelly wasn't in the water–the crowds at HB Pier were unreal. Half a million googly-eyed jailbaiters may be irritating to those of us who enjoy uninterrupted walking, but they're invigorating for the competitors who can feel their energy from the lineup.
"In this heat, I had a bunch of people up on the pier yelling at me, like, 'Go! Go! Go! You're my favorite surfer!'" Malia Manuel said. "Telling me to go on waves or if there was a set coming. Just random people. It's cool to see so much support for women's surfing. Hopefully that continues."
Malia advanced to the semifinals at the year's last women's CT event after trading power carves and fin flicks with Courtney Conlogue. She's currently leading Lakey Peterson in the race for Rookie of the Year, but Lakey's had her sights set on the award since her elite inception and she'll not be handing it over without a proper ruckus.
In the second quarter, Lakey took down a very capable Sage Erickson and nearly attained perfection (19.76) with her precocious, explosive surfing. Unfortunately for Sage, Lakey picked up on her two-turn strategy and Lakey's turns are, y'know, ridiculously critical.
"It's kind of insane," Lakey said of her total. "I was not expecting to go out and do that, but I always go out with the intention of getting at least two eights. I just got the right waves, my board was feeling really good, and those lefts were the best ones out there–they allowed you to do two big turns. The judges are going to score that all day, so that's just what I did and I'm really stoked."
In the second half of the round, Sally Fitzgibbons comboed Coco Ho with characteristic Sally Fitz flair, throwing tons of water around and slamming the lip. Carissa Moore and Paige Hareb hit a bit of a lull, but Carissa somehow extracted an 8.50 and a 6.60 from the tide-stricken sets. World Champ mojo? Well, whatever it was, she'll need copious amounts of it for her semi against Sally when the ladies resume competition on Sunday.—Casey Butler
ASP Press Release: Lakey Peterson Nears Perfection at Nike US Open of Surfing
HUNTINGTON BEACH, California/USA (Friday, August 3, 2012) – The 2012 Nike US Open of Surfing returned to the iconic Huntington Beach Pier for its seventh, consecutive day of competition, witnessing the men’s and women’s fields narrowed following explosive performances in the improving surf conditions.
Lakey Peterson (USA), 17, 2012 ASP Women’s World Championship Tour (WCT) rookie, took top honors today, dominating her Quarterfinals match-up against fellow Californian Sage Erickson (USA), 21, posting a near-perfect heat. The talented natural-footer demonstrated ferocious combinations of backhand turns across the lefthanders breaking into Huntington Beach Pier, notching the highest scores of women's competition of 9.93 and 9.83 for a combined 19.76 out of 20 heat total.
"That just gave me a lot of confidence," Peterson said. "The waves were consistent which was nice because if you fell you knew you were going to get another one. I was just really relaxed and my board felt really good in those conditions. Sage (Erickson) is one of my good friends so surfing against her is bittersweet. She's a good competitor and pushes me to be my best and at the same time we were having fun out there."
Ranked No. 9 on the ASP Women’s WCT ratings heading into the Nike US Open of Surfing, Peterson has safely qualified to be a part of next year’s elite field and has her sights set on a US Open victory and possible ASP Women’s Rookie of the Year title. “She (Malia Manuel) is ahead of me so we'll see what happens,” Peterson said. “I'm just focusing on the event right now. Malia’s surfing really well right now and it'll be a good Semifinal.”
Malia Manuel (HAW), 18, got the best of a hard-fought heat over local favorite Courtney Conlogue (USA), 19, to guarantee one of the best results of her rookie year on the ASP WCT, a Semifinals berth. "That was a close heat," Manuel said. "I was kind of nervous and felt like I was surfing not myself. The conditions were kind of bumpy, there were lulls and big sets that walled so there were tough decisions on which ones to ride. Courtney is such an amazing athlete and it's her home break. It was a close heat and I'm glad that I got the nod in the end." Manuel will face off against fellow ASP WCT rookie Peterson in the Semifinals.
With women's Semifinalists decided, the men's ASP Prime action delivered a heightened level of excitement in determining the Final 16 in a day heavily dominated by Californian and Hawaiian talent.
Kelly Slater (USA), 40, 11-time ASP World Champion and defending Nike US Open of Surfing Champion, was relegated to Round 5 yesterday by a rampaging Nathaniel Curran (USA), 27, but roared back to life today while posting an impressive win over Stuart Kennedy (AUS), 22. Slater unloaded a two-turn backhand combo on a left breaking in to the pier to post a 9.20 for the ride, the men's highest for the day, on his way to a strong 15.37 out of 20 to advance through to the Round of 16. "This board is a copy of what I rode in Fiji," Slater said. "It works good on open-faced lefts and I thought it'd work good out there today, but there are a few funny little sections out there. Stu (Kennedy) got that one air and did the full rotation, I'm lucky he didn't make another one."
Slater will take on young South American Jesse Mendes (BRA), 24, when competition resumes tomorrow morning. Tim Reyes (Huntington Beach, CA), 30, former standout on the ASP WCT and local hero, continued to find success at his local break when he defeated fellow Orange County surfer Tanner Gudauskas (San Clemente, CA), 23, in their Round of 24 bout.
"I don't remember the last time I woke up this early to surf Huntington," Reyes said. "My coach, family and friends have been helping me out and I'm just happy to be in the Quarterfinals at home and I feel good and I'm just ready to open up on some waves in front of my friends and family." Reyes, who entered the Nike US Open of Surfing as an alternate, dreams of facing off against fellow Huntington Beach surfer Brett Simpson (USA), 27, in the Final, but is focusing on the upcoming Round of 16.
“I'm just stoked to be in the event," Reyes said. "I came in the event as an alternate and winning would be a dream, but surfing against Brett (Simpson) in the Final would be amazing. I'm just looking at the next heat and am having fun." Reyes will face Filipe Toledo (BRA), 17, in the Round of 16.
Brett Simpson (Huntington Beach, CA), 27, two-time Nike US Open of Surfing winner and stalwart competitor on the elite ASP World Championship Tour, utilized his local knowledge to take a heat win over Lincoln Taylor (AUS), 24. Simpson relied on calculated wave selection to secure his Round of 16 berth and hopes to maintain his momentum in an attempt to take a third event title. "I got a few waves and stuck to my game plan," Simpson said. "My goal was to sit next to him and if a good wave came in I was going to get it. I was going to keep him off of it. I had some close heats when I won in previous years and it feels similar this year. Luckily we're out of the four man heats so there's a little more strategy. I felt like I had a push and was in better rhythm.”
Simpson has drawn Australian phenom Julian Wilson (AUS), 24, in tomorrow’s Round of 16 bout. To watch the event LIVE log on to www.usopenofsurfing.com.
While the action in the water is guaranteed to provide plenty of entertainment, the Nike US Open of Surfing, owned and operated by IMG, a global leader in sports and entertainment, is part of a major action sports festival that includes skateboarding, music, art and more.
WOMEN'S NIKE US OPEN OF SURFING QUARTERFINALS RESULTS:
QF 1: Malia Manuel (HAW) 13.20 def. Courtney Conlogue (USA) 12.93
QF 2: Lakey Peterson (USA) 19.76 def. Sage Erickson (USA) 13.76
QF 3: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 16.60 def. Coco Ho (HAW) 10.80
QF 4: Carissa Moore (HAW) 15.10 def. Paige Hareb (NZL) 8.60
MEN'S NIKE US OPEN OF SURFING ROUND OF 24 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Tim Reyes (USA) 14.33 def. Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 11.16
Heat 2: Kai Otton (AUS) 13.00 def. Jay Thompson (AUS) 12.93
Heat 3: Kelly Slater (USA) 15.37 def. Stu Kennedy (AUS) 9.93
Heat 4: Dane Reynolds (USA) 13.94 def. Yadin Nicol (AUS) 7.36
Heat 5: Granger Larsen (HAW) 14.76 def. Alex Ribero (BRA)11.84
Heat 6: Nat Young (USA) 13.17 def. Mitchel Coleborn (AUS) 11.04
Heat 7: Keanu Asing (HAW) 13.04 def. Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 12.80
Heat 8: Brett Simpson (USA) 13.73 def. Lincoln Taylor (AUS) 10.67