HUNTINGTON BEACH – The 2012 Nike US Open of Surfing returned to Huntington Beach Pier today in improved two-to-three foot (1 metre) waves and saw amazing aerial performances from the Brazilian contingent while upsets unfolded amidst the ASP Top 17.
For Santa Barbara surfers, Conner Coffin won his Pro Junior quarterfinal heat over Michael February (ZAF), Evan Thompson (USA), and Tanner Hendrickson (HAW) with the highest two-wave score of the day in the Pro Junior competition. Coffin, 19, advances to the Pro Junior semifinals on Saturday afternoon.
In the Women’s Main Event, Ojai’s Sage Erickson upset 5x world champion Stephanie Gilmore to set up a quarterfinal one-on-one heat with Santa Barbara’s Lakey Peterson on Friday.
Gabriel Medina (BRA), 18, continued his unstoppable tear on the competition today and was nearly flawless in his Round of 24 heat. The high flying Brazilian relied on his signature aerial game to launch the highest score of Nike US Open of Surfing competition, a 9.93, on the way to a 19.03 out of 20 heat total.
“I just tried to have fun,” Medina said. “Today’s waves are better than the other day and I just tried to do my airs and make the heat, so I’m stoked.”
Filipe Toledo (BRA), 17, put on an amazing performance to win his Round of 24 heat despite an unfortunate interference. The progressive young talent fought back to amass one of the event’s highest scores of 9.80 when he launched a fully committed air-reverse on the outside followed by a clean cutback and consolidated the score with a second air-reverse on the inside.
“I got the interference and I thought, I’m going to do airs and make up for it,” Toledo said. “I knew I needed to make up for it and the interference might have given me extra motivation. I’ve got a lot of heats left to surf in the juniors too and I’m stoked to defend my title.”
Nathaniel Curran (Oxnard, CA), 27, former winner at the Nike US Open of Surfing, put on a banner performance to relegate reigning 11-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA), 40, and last year’s event runner-up Yadin Nicol (AUS), 27, to Round 5 in their Round 4 non-elimination heat. The Oxnard surfer went to precise power-turn combinations to amass an 18.06 heat total on the way to his victory, which proved to be one of the day’s top scores.
“It was a little high-tide but there were actually some waves in the heat which made it nice,” Curran said. “I wanted to do some airs, but I didn’t want to change my game up much. I was looking for the lefts because I knew they were the ones with the big scoring potential. I didn’t want to surf out of my norm and I just stuck to my game plan. I wanted to get two good scores and then go for airs, but I never got the sections. I’m just really excited.”
Curran, who recently finished runner-up at the ASP Prime in South Africa, has regained momentum on the ASP World Ranking and attributes his rebound to rediscovered confidence and refined equipment.
“A little bit of confidence and some good board helps so much,” Curran said. “I was in a slump for awhile and Al Merrick has been giving me some good boards and I feel like that goes a long way.”
Julian Wilson (AUS), 23, was another international talent who took to the air to win his heat. The ASP WCT standout got off to a slow start in his match up against local favorite Brett Simpson (Huntington Beach, CA), 27, and current ASP North America Pro Junior Series Ratings Leader Keanu Asing (Ewa Beach, HI), 19, but catapulted to victory with a huge air-reverse to the tune of 9.50 out of 10.
“I was just taking off on everything, really” Wilson said. “I was just trying to find an opportunity. It was similar to my last heat where we had an eight minute lull. It’s never that fun when you can’t get it going in a heat, but it was a fun second part to the heat. I was going for one big move and I didn’t really want to hassle Simpo (Brett Simpson) because I knew he’d be looking for those lefts. I just looked for the rights and it worked out.”
While there was a flurry of high scores throughout men’s competition today, ASP Women’s World Tour action began to heat up while requalification campaigns and the race for the 2012 Women’s ASP Rookie of the Year title tightened.
Sage Erickson (Ventura, CA), 21, was responsible for the upset of women’s competition when she eliminated freshly crowned five-time ASP Women’s World Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), 24, in their Round 4 affair. Erickson’s Quarterfinals berth marks a breakthrough performance for her rookie campaign amongst the ASP Top 17 and the former US Open of Surfing Pro Junior winner hopes to find her way to the podium in the women’s main event.
“Coming up against Steph (Gilmore) there were so many things going into the heat because she’s an amazing surfers,” Erickson said. “It feels surreal because I’ve struggled on tour this year and to have the monkey off of your back and feels really good going into the latter part of the QS. WT level is another bar and level is so good, to out perform any of the girls is an honor and to get in the final and be carried up the beach in front of my hometown crowd would be surreal, but obviously the next goal is the Quarterfinals.”
Malia Manuel (HAW), 18, current No. 7 on the ASP Women’s WCT, opened the day’s action with a win over Australian standout Tyler Wright (AUS), 18. Manuel, the current frontrunner for the women’s Rookie of the Year Title, hopes she can maintain her form at the Nike US Open of Surfing to secure the prestigious award over her fellow rookie campaigners.
“There were tons of waves before our heat and all of a sudden the horn rang and it was slow,” Manuel said. “It was nice with only two girls out and you’ve just got to go with your instincts. It would be a great honor to win the rookie of the year award and it’s been four or five years since my win here when I was 14 and I would love to win now that it’s a World Tour event.”
Nike US Open of Surfing action will resume tomorrow morning at 8:30am local time beginning with Men’s Round 5. To watch the action LIVE log on to www.usopenofsurfing.com
For additional ASP information log on to www.aspworldtour.com or www.aspnorthamerica.org
For complimentary high-res images and video news releases contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
WOMEN’S ROUND 4:
Heat 1: Malia Manuel (HAW) 11.10 def. Tyler Wright (AUS) 10.17
Heat 2: Sage Erickson (USA) 14.74 def. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 11.90
Heat 3: Coco Ho (HAW) 12.00 def. Laura Enever (AUS) 6.00
Heat 4: Paige Hareb (NZL) 14.87 def. Pauline Ado (FRA) 13.76
WOMEN’S QUARTERFINALS MATCH-UPS:
QF 1: Courtney Conlogue (USA) vs. Malia Manuel (HAW)
QF 2: Lakey Peterson (USA) vs. Sage Erickson (USA)
QF 3: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) vs. Coco Ho (HAW)
QF 4: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Paige Hareb (NZL)
MEN’S ROUND OF 24: (No Losers)
Heat 1: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 13.24, Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 12.17, Kai Otton (AUS) 10.30
Heat 2: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 16.44, Jay Thompson (USA) 10.43, Tim Reyes (USA) 10.27
Heat 3: Jesse Mendes (BRA) 12.40, Stu Kennedy (AUS) 11.50, Dane Reynolds (USA) 6.06
Heat 4: Nathaniel Curran (USA) 18.06, Yadin Nicol (AUS) 14.84, Kelly Slater (USA) 14.47
Heat 5: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 19.03, Granger Larsen (HAW) 15.20, Nat Young (USA) 9.27
Heat 6: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 15.30, Mitchel Coleborn (AUS) 13.57, Alex Ribeiro (BRA) 12.10
Heat 7: John John Florence (HAW) 15.57, Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 13.44, Lincoln Taylor (AUS) 12.87
Heat 8: Julian Wilson (AUS) 17.33, Brett Simpson (USA) 13.54, Keanu Asing (HAW) 12.33
MEN’S PRO JUNIOR QUARTERFINALS:
QF 1: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 16.77, Hiroto Ohhara (JPN) 12.73, Keanu Asing (HAW) 11.83, Trevor Thornton (USA) 7.67
QF 2: Conner Coffin (USA) 18.00, Michael February (ZAF) 14.67, Evan Thompson (USA) 13.87, Tanner Hendrickson (HAW) 10.00
QF 3: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 17.24, Kalani David (HAW) 11.67, Hiroto Arai (JPN) 9.80, Kaimana Jaquias (HAW) 8.84
QF 4: Cooper Chapman (AUS) 15.33, Taylor Thorne (USA) 12.46, Derek Peters (USA) 7.67, Andrew Doheny (USA) 6.37