Snapper Rocks, QLD, Australia (Sunday, March 10) Two-time ASP world juniorchampion Joel Parkinson (Aus) today defeated world #3 Cory Lopez (USA) inthe final of the Quiksilver Pro. The hometown victory puts him on top of theWorld Championship Tour (WCT) ratings, and secured US$30,000 prizemoney.
Surf remained 3-5 ft (1-1.5 m), with ideal southeast winds throughout theday helping to create fantastic conditions. Snapper Rocks showcased thedramatic climax, with competition commencing this morning in thequarterfinals.
Parkinson, who in 1999 won his first WCT as an 18-year-old wildcard in SouthAfrica, today added another incredible chapter to his illustrious list ofachievements. After eliminating six-time world champion Kelly Slater (USA)yesterday, high expectations mounted. With an always-casual approach,however, ‘Parko’ overcame fellow Australian Danny Wills this morning, beforetaking down Shea Lopez in the semifinals, and then the Floridian’s youngerbrother in the all-important clash.
The 35-minute decider showcased superb surfing from both, but it was thenatural-footer’s near-perfect 9.5 ride that separated them. After emergingfrom a deep tube right off the take-off, he continued to carve the cleanwave face through the inside section, offering the supportive crowd exactlywhat they wanted. Then, after holding a commanding lead until the end, hepicked off another inside barrel, turned to the mass of onlookers, andraised his hands in celebration. A jet ski even took him for a lap of honor,before friends and media swarmed the shoreline.
“Feeling great,” began Parkinson, over the roar of applause and cheers. “Ican’t (believe it went so well). I got that one when Cory had priority, buthe was out too far, and I just snuck into it. I’ve over the moon.
“I was fairly confident the whole way ’cause it was at Snapper,” hecontinued, of his local surf break. “Everybody is so good at Snapper, andCory, I saw what he did in the semi. It was always open, but I’m just stokedI got it.
“All the boys, I can’t wait to party with them,” he added, to furthercheers. “It’s great, and the money’s good (laughs). It’s a great start tothe year. I just hope the roll keeps going. A few more wins through the yearwould be awesome.”
Lopez, 24, who has had an ankle injury for the past month, showed no signsof easing up during the last match. His backhand barrel riding and committedre-entries proved deadly en-route, but if anything, local experience gavehis final opponent the advantage. The goofy-foot came back from needing acombination of rides, but still required a steep 9.66-points when the 2002tournament concluded.
“I’m stoked to have made the final,” said Lopez. “Unfortunately I hadpriority and ‘Parko’ got that one inside me, as I couldn’t keep him off it.I was pretty bummed, but that’s the way it worked out. ‘Parko’ was rippingthe whole contest and I saw his 9.6 against my brother. He took him out,took us both out, so our family is pretty bummed about that, but maybe nexttime we’ll get him.
“It hurts a little bit here and there,” he explained of his ankle. “You’vejust got to forget about things like that, especially in the final. Afterthis result I’m feeling more solid and will probably just focus on the(coming) WCT’s and get my foot better.”
Finishing equal third were Shea Lopez (USA) and 1999 world champion and lastyear’s tour runner-up Mark Occhilupo (Aus).
The 27-year-old Lopez also failed to match the form of Parkinson today,searching for a combination of rides (11.46-points) when time elapsed. Thefact his rival posted the day’s highest single wave score of 9.6, and thesecond best tally of the entire tournament with 25.6-points, contributingdearly.
“I didn’t get the best waves,” explained Lopez. “To beat ‘Parko’ you haveto. It came down to wave selection.”
Occhilupo, 35, appeared unstoppable as his semifinal got underway againstCory, but then made some tactical errors, and Lopez picked off a 9.0 toclose the gap. From there, his command loosened, and ultimately, it was lostwhen the Floridian paddled into his fifth and final ride, posting more thanrequired with a 6.95 score.
“I can’t believe I made the silliest mistake,” began Occhilupo. “I wasthinking I had him, which is the biggest no no. After I heard he got the9.0, he only needed a five, which is really hard to stop someone getting outthere when every wave is worth at least that.
“I feel really good with that result going into Bells,” he acknowledged,referring to the next WCT event in Australia. “That’s my preferred event, soI feel great to have a good result already.”
Finishing equal fifth in the Quiksilver Pro were Richie Lovett (Aus), Wills(Aus), Andy Irons (Haw) and tour rookie Maz Quinn (NZ). For 25-year-oldQuinn, the result was especially sweet, being only his first WCT event.
“It’s a dream start for me,” said Quinn. “Quarterfinals in my first ‘CTever… It’s a huge confidence boost going into all the other events.”
Two Mitchell Surfing Foundation (MSF) Expression Sessions also took placetoday. One before the grand finale, and one afterward, with US$10,000divided into four categories over two heats. A score of the world’s bestsurfers went berserk, without the usual ratings pressure to worry about, andresults follow:
Heat one: Mick Fanning (Aus) took out the best aerial award, Andy Irons themost innovative, the most radical maneuver went to Kalani Robb (Haw), while’Occy’ and Luke Egan (Aus) shared the most entertaining prize when theycrashed into each other.
Heat two: Luke Munro (Aus) took out the best aerial, Slater the mostinnovative, the most radical maneuver went to Damien Hobgood (USA), whileKieren Perrow (Aus) proved the most entertaining.