Once again Sally Fitzgibbons was in the running this year for the ASP Women's World Championship Tour title, but it was not to be for the young Australian, whose day will no doubt soon come. Fitzgibbons finished equal fifth in the Roxy Pro Biarritz, while Stephanie Gilmore took the event and the tour title for the fifth time in her illustrious career. We sat down with Fitzgibbons before the US Open of Surfing to talk about the heartbreaking defeat and her expectations for the Open and beyond.
Sal! It's been a few weeks since France. We still reckon Steph cheated but whatever... Ha. How have you spent the last couple of weeks?
It was definitely a shattering feeling. To go down in the event and have the title race come to a close for another year over in Biarritz, it was hard. But on the other end of the scale it was a fitting ending and an amazingly-executed win for Steph -- she's a great champion and it's awesome to have the title back on home soil.
Australian Formula One driver Mark Webber came oh-so-close to the F1 title in 2010 and lost in the very last race of the year. How does this year's title race sit with you -- is it the one that got away?
After putting everything into perspective and looking back on what I've achieved this year, I was absolutely stoked. The win, yeah, it would have been amazing. But I'm very satisfied when I can feel myself improving and gaining knowledge. I'm only at the beginning of my career so I have time to get this right. The last couple of weeks have been back to the usual -- surfing and training to get ready for a big showing at the US Open this week!
"I have great memories from the win here at Huntington Beach last year. It was insane getting chaired up the beach amongst a huge crowd -- it felt like I crowd-surfed to the stage."
The conditions in Biarritz were more average than The Shire. It almost looked like it was just a matter of luck in those heats -- more so than usual...
There is always that element of luck, especially when you are dealing with beach breaks. I definitely felt super comfortable and at home surfing in Biarritz, but it just didn't come together for me in that quarterfinal, and that's surfing. You have to learn to deal with the highs and lows. I was so stoked with all my lead-up to the event and my surfing in the early stages of the event. I know I gave it absolutely everything.
Damn straight. Still a great year considering you had a busted wing for most of the summer -- you've won two events so far...
There are so many positives to come out of this season. Winning at Bells back-to-back and having my first-ever win in Brazil were both super special moments during the year. But just looking at how far I came from being out of the water all of December and January with a broken wrist to where my surfing has improved to now, that's a real positive that I will draw a lot of confidence from.
And the good news is it's not over yet and we've got the US Open this week. You killed it at Huntington last year and are the reigning champ...
I have great memories from the win here at Huntington Beach last year [photo below]. It was insane getting chaired up the beach amongst a huge crowd -- it felt like I crowd-surfed to the stage, haha. It was crazy! I'll be chasing that winning feeling again this week. I love the challenges of surfing Huntington through the week. You are thrown all sorts of conditions and tides and I hope I can master whatever comes my way.
You've surfed HB a few times this year in preparation for the Open. You ready to take down Steph?
Haha. I go into every event with the same approach -- nice and relaxed so I can put my best surfing together. The ultimate goal is obviously to take a win at the end of the week, but there are a lot of things that have to come together during the week and a lot of hard work to even get a crack at the finals. I really love the process of it all and I'm psyched on having a great time and enjoying it all this week.
You and Steph are good friends but I'm guessing you wouldn't mind spoiling her party in Huntington? And Tyler Wright -- she could steal that number two spot from you if she has her way...
Steph and I are definitely great friends but both love a good competition. Tyler, too! I think it will be a great showing from all the girls. There are going to be some explosive heats.
And what's next? The tour is over and I'm guessing that's something that must be a big bone of contention with the girls. Are there any prospects of more events this year?
I can't wait for our tour to confirm a few more events for the back half of the year in coming seasons but for the meantime I'll use the time to do trips to some amazing waves. I'll get my "Dora The Explorer" on and check out some countries and secret spots I've never been to and kick back and relax before gearing up for a big 2013 season.
If we don't see any more events, what's your plan for the rest of the year out of the water? Quad-biking? Bungee jumping? Knitting? Or knitting on a quad bike during a bungee?
Definitely all of it at the same time! And add a backflip in on the quad bike while doing the other many activities! There will be some super fun stuff on the cards. I might even try my hand at a bit of snowboarding, which is suuuuuper fun.
Lastly. What's the one thing you will take away from this season?
That everything happens for a reason. I feel like I have all the tools to go that one step further to number one. For now, patience is key and to keep enjoying each moment as it comes. I'm loving the journey!