Upstarts come back for more at the Hurley U.S. Open of Surfing Women's Division. Sofia Mulanovich will be trying to show the younger girls how to do. Photo: Dorsey/Stryker
Last year, the women's event stole the show, when fourteen-year-old Malia Manuel gave the performance of her life to win the contest, the youngest person ever to do so. It instantly catapulted her into teenage surf star status, and she'll be back again this year hoping to show the world it wasn't just a lucky break. But there's a hungry contingent of frothing youngsters and talented veterans that will be surfing their hearts out to etch their name into Huntington history, as well.
Faces To Watch
Home: Honolulu, Hawaii
Sponsors: Nike 6.0, Red Bull, Nezzy Surfboards, Sticky Bumps
The Dirt: Whenever Carissa Moore shows up to an event, she's got a solid chance at victory. From winning the Reef Hawaiian Pro last year to scoring a perfect ten in a men's WQS event, she's going to take women's surfing to a new level in the future. The teenage dynamo is amazingly smooth and powerful for her young years.
Home: Lima, Peru
Sponsors: Roxy, Channel Islands, Red Bull, Movistar, DaKine, Lan
The Dirt: While there's a talented young crop of women that have joined the World Tour and much talk about the new generation, 2004 World Champ Sofia Mulanovich is ripping harder than ever and is no dinosaur at a spry 26 years old. She's had a great start on the World Tour this year, ranked third, and her whippy top turn has earned her a win at Huntington before, and she'd love to make it two.
Home: Gerroa, NSW, Australia
Sponsors: Roxy, DHD, enties, Smith, Gorilla Grip, Sexwax
The Dirt: Sally beams a wide, toothy smile that belies her vicious contest attack. Last year she set a record for winning the WQS the earliest in the year anyone's ever done it, so it's a given that she knows how to win in beachbreak surf. And she's made the semis the last two years at H.B.—this could be her year to go all the way to the top.
The world's best juniors vie for points at the Nike 6.0 Pro Junior.
The Nike 6.0 Pro Junior is the stage for the top young surfers in the world to prove they have the mettle to make it in the pro leagues. It's not often that a junior event draws elite talent from across the globe, but when you're talking about Huntington Beach, there's more than just points up for grabs. It's ground zero of the industry, which means everyone from team managers to CEOs and the heaviest power players have their eyes on the action. Not to mention every media outlet you can think of is there, and of course, tens of thousands of people packed onto the beach and pier. Add it all up, and it's a heavy pressure situation for any surfer, but especially for the juniors. It's a chance to test their skills—and nerves—against the best twenty-and-under surfers out there. The stakes are high, the only thing higher is the performance level. If you can handle the pressure here, chances are you can handle it anywhere. With the quarterfinalists already determined, look for the top junior pros to continue action on Thursday at 3:00 p.m.
Faces To Watch
Home: Haiku, Maui
Sponsors: Hurley, Nike 6.0, Oakley, Local Motion, DaKine
The Dirt: From blasting the tail out to charging heaving barrels to throwing man hacks, Kai Barger is capable of it all. Earlier this year he won the Billabong ASP World Junior championships, proving he can not only hang with the best juniors in the world, but beat them. Getting a win on surfing's biggest stage in front of thousands is surely a stop on Kai's road to a big pro career.
Home: Santa Cruz, California
Sponsors: O'Neill, Nike 6.0, Oakley, Sexwax, Rainbow Fins, Freestyle, Santa Cruz skateboards
The Dirt: Nat Young accomplished a lot during his 2008 summer vacation: an NSSA National championship and then a fourth-place finish at the U.S. Open Pro Junior. If that weren't enough, he added a major WQS victory to his résumé when he won the O'Neill Cold Water Classic in his hometown of Santa Cruz. Look for Nat's razor-quick attack to put up big numbers as he attempts to add a win at Huntington to his trophy case.