John John Florence, the 19-year-old phenom from the North Shore of Hawaii, claimed his first World Championship Tour victory on Wednesday when he defeated Joel Parkinson, one of the world's most stylish surfers, in the final of the Billabong Rio Pro in Brazil.
Florence began the heat with a flurry, registering the round's top score in the opening moments with a no grab 540 air reverse that the judges awarded with a 9.01. Parko looked flummoxed. A few minutes later, Florence took off on a small set wave, pulled into a barrel off the takeoff, emerged and executed a flawless grab-rail reverse air. The judges awarded him a 7.27, his back up score.
There was some intrigue in the later minutes of the heat; Parko pulled into a five-second tube, scoring an 8.27 and Florence appeared to lose his composure with about 10 minutes remaining in the heat, forfeiting wave priority on two mistimed aerials. Parkinson had opportunities but in the end was unable to connect.
"I can't even believe this right now," Florence said afterward. He had navigated a treacherous road to the final, facing Red Bull surfer Julian Wilson in the quarters and Josh Kerr in the semi-finals.
"I was just sticking to my game plan and not thinking about the other guys," Florence added.
Despite the defeat, Parkinson managed to score enough points as the runner-up to jump to the top of the World Championship Tour standings, ahead of Mick Fanning (pictured above), who finished third, highest of all Red Bull surfers.
“It’s a good feeling I suppose,” Parkinson said. “It’s a long way to go and I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself, but I’m stoked. I’ve had a couple of really nice consistent results."
Billabong Rio Pro Final
1 – John John Florence (HAW) 16.37
2 – Joel Parkinson (AUS) 11.44
SF 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 15.83 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 15.00
SF 2: John John Florence (HAW) 17.94 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 11.86
QF 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 13.90 def. Tiago Pires (PRT) 12.60
QF 2: Mick Fanning (AUS) 16.57 def. Alejo Muniz (BRA) 5.90
QF 3: John John Florence (HAW) 14.94 def. Julian Wilson (AUS) 9.43
QF 4: Josh Kerr (AUS) 15.84 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 14.27
Current ASP World Championship Tour Top 10:
1. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 19700 pts
2. Mick Fanning (AUS) 18250 pts
3. Josh Kerr (AUS) 18200 pts
4. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 17200 pts
5. Taj Burrow (AUS) 15750 pts
6. John John Florence (HAW) 15750 pts
7. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 15700 pts
8. Kelly Slater (USA) 13700 pts
9. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 12250 pts
10. Owen Wright (AUS) 12150 pts
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