OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE – A little rest never hurt anyone. After an eye-opening first two days of pumping beachbreak surf, the Quiksilver ISA World Juniors took a break on Day Three. Lackluster swell and onshore winds had competitors checking back every three hours only to be sent packing.
Teams from around the world spent the lay day catching up on their rest, cruising the shops in Hossegor or getting their aquatic fix at the local water park. Grom hellmen like USA's Nat Young, Brazil's Jadson Andre and Hawaiian Tanner Hendrickson were the unofficial "standouts of the day" by charging the vertical slides and launching themselves ahead of the rest on the four-person wide chutes.
When competition resumed on Wednesday, the USA girls showed up in full force. Despite countless delays due to weather, all four girls remained in the Qualifying heats and demoted a handful of other nations to the repercharge rounds.
Amy Nicholl cruised through the first heat of the day as the flags of 28 countries tugged firmly in the offshore winds. In the very next heat, Sage Erickson showed her '07 bronze medal was no fluke by dusting the competition with solid forehand surfing and netted a pair of 8.5s for her efforts.
"I really want our team to do well," said Erickson. "I feel really strongly that our team has a really, really good chance for gold. We've all got to see all the other countries surf already and I think we have a good vibe going around so I think we'll push through for a medal."
Next was Santa Barbara's Demi Boelsterli who faced an intimidating Brazilian named Diana DeSouza. Proving she was no underdog, Boelsterli blew the top off a righthander to the tune of 9.1, the highest single wave score of the day. After her heat, the sponsorless Boelsterli was a bit camera shy as the webcast filmers followed her every move.
With a disappointing early exit from the 2007 World Juniors, Courtney Conlogue arrived in France poised and focused. Her multiple eight-point rides throughout her first two heats confirm that she's surely a force to reckon with.
Despite Tuesday's marginal (at best) conditions, Monday's final heat put the Team USA guys into the driver's seat amongst the 28-team field. Kolohe "Brother" Andino and teammate Luke Davis ended up in the same heat and faced Brazilian Gabriel Medina and UK's Toby Donachie. The waning conditions forced Davis to attack at first draw and Andino followed suit immediately. Before mid-heat, the pair of SoCal wonders had their competitors' backs against the wall and both moved on to Round Three of the winner's bracket of the double-elimination marathon.
"I was actually stoked when I saw that me and Brother were in the same heat," said Davis afterwards. "I knew we could work together to hold off the Brazo."
As usual, the Australians and Hawaiians are up at the top of the seed list, along with Brazil. Granger Larson blew up in Round Two after a solid righthander that turned heads and notched an 8.67. Coco Ho is another Islander on a mission, remaining undefeated during her first two match-ups.
"Our team looks pretty strong this year," said top seeded Hawaiian Coco Ho. "Granger Larson has been ripping and our girls squad could be unstoppable."
But while the Wahine's squad of Ho, Malia Manuel, Alessa Quizon and Leila Hurst looks amongst the heaviest in the draw, Team USA has a blow-for-blow answer to the Islanders’ depth.
Check back tomorrow for a Day Five wrap-up.