ASP WT 2012: Which Rookies Will Break the Curve?

This year’s Quik Pro Snapper might have the most explosive roster of talent ever assembled for a surf contest. Dane’s in. Kelly’s in. And almost the entire cast of Lost Atlas is in. But this year’s rookies might just overshadow the rest of the competition. Here’s a look at which freshmen will flare up:

Kolohe Andino:

Coming off a string of impressive showings at the last two Prime events in Australia and boasting a string of grade-A video clips on his new blog, it appears that Kolohe is hitting stride at just the right time. At 17, his technique is unrivaled– the product of surf-coaching from Mike Parsons and his dad, Dino. The small to medium surf forecasted for the Quiksilver event suits Kolohe’s small frame. But with Dane dropping off tour, the pressure of expectations from surf fans to fill the role of California’s golden child could weigh heavy on Andino in 2012.

John Florence:

Florence is coming off the type of North Shore winter performance that would define most surfers’ careers. Yet he’s only beginning to show his potential. Though he possesses less experience than his freshman cohorts on small rights, you can bet they’ll be taking notes as Florence manhandles the frightening lefts scheduled later in the 2012 season.

Gabriel Medina:

Had it not been for the strange ASP rule that you can’t win Rookie Of The Year if you don’t surf the full season, Brazil’s wunderkid Gabe Medina would have undoubtedly pocketed the honor in 2011. Gabe’s main disadvantage is going right, and only one Quik Pro winner (Mick Lowe) has been a goofyfoot. The first leg of the tour in Australia could be his greatest challenge in 2012.

Miguel Pupo:

The other new Brazilian on tour may not already have two WT victories like Medina, but he’s definitely coming in hot. Pupo claimed the first Prime event of the season last week in pumping barrels at Fernando De Noronha’s Hang Loose Pro Brazil. And he won the O’neill Cold Water Classic at Steamer Lane last season, which is slated as a WT event this year. Expect Pupo to carry the momentum from his recent wins through the early part of the season.

Yadin Nicol:

No one deserves their spot on this year’s tour more than Yadin Nicol. One week after he officially qualified last season, he broke his leg in Japan and was forced to surrender his spot to John Florence. Yadin definitely has the repertoire and the tactics to win anywhere, though it’s tough to picture him on the podium after his final at the US Open against Kelly Slater where he struggled to catch a wave. The big challenge for Yadin in 2012 will be the pressure of surfing on the main stage.

The waiting period for the Quiksilver Pro begins February 25. That’s Saturday morning in Oz, and Friday afternoon in the States. With a clean shoulder-high swell forecasted, expect the event to start immediately.