Shortly after the ASP announced the first-round draws for the Billabong Pro Rio on Tuesday morning, Kelly Slater, the reigning ASP world champion, withdrew from the competition, which begins on Wednesday in Brazil.
Slater, who is also the ASP no. 1 ranked surfer, injured his heel in Java and then re-opened the wound the following week at Cloudbreak. “It became infected and I flew to Australia to get it treated and stitched in hopes of making it to Rio, if not for round one, at least for round two," he said in a statement.
"I’ve been in the water since getting it stitched and while I can go straight, I can’t do turns at all right now so I’ll have to pull out of Rio," he went on. "It’s unfortunate, but I’m just going to focus on healing up as soon as possible right now.”
Even without Slater, who will be replaced by Willian Cardoso of Brazil, the Billabong Pro Rio is stacked with talent, including Nike Lowers Pro champion Gabriel Medina. Red Bull athletes Jordy Smith, Mick Fanning, Julian Wilson, Kolohe Andino and Michel Bourez will compete on the men's side, while the women's draw will feature Sally Fitzgibbons, who won the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach in Australia last month, and Carissa Moore, the reigning ASP champion and last year's Billabong Pro Rio winner.
Carissa arrived in Brazil on Sunday and headed to Arpoador, one of the three event sites, on Monday morning.
"This wave is a left point break/beach break," she wrote in her blog. "Beautiful set up. The wave breaks at the left point of this big bay. White sand stretches for miles and breathtaking mountains peak to the far right. Gorgeous."
Carissa will face off against Hawaiian Coco Ho and Brazilian Jacqueline Silva in the fifth heat (all match-ups below). To watch the Billabong Pro Rio live online, go to the official site. The contest runs from May 9-20.
Round One Match-ups (revised):
Heat 1: Josh Kerr (AUS), Bede Durbidge (AUS), Jadson Andre (BRA)
Heat 2: Jordy Smith (ZAF), C.J. Hobgood (USA), Patrick Gudauskas (USA)
Heat 3: Owen Wright (AUS), Raoni Monteiro (BRA), Taylor Knox (USA)
Heat 4: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Kai Otton (AUS), Willian Cardoso (BRA)
Heat 5: Taj Burrow (AUS), Kieren Perrow (AUS), Tomas Hermes (BRA)
Heat 6: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Peterson Crisanto (BRA)
Heat 7: Julian Wilson (AUS), Brett Simpson (USA), Fredrick Patacchia (HAW)
Heat 8: Gabriel Medina (BRA), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Yadin Nicol (AUS)
Heat 9: Mick Fanning (AUS), Damien Hobgood (USA), Travis Logie (ZAF)
Heat 10: Michel Bourez (PYF), Miguel Pupo (BRA), Tiago Pires (PRT)
Heat 11: Jeremy Flores (FRA), Heitor Alves (BRA), Kolohe Andino (USA)
Heat 12: John John Florence (HAW), Alejo Muniz (BRA), Adam Melling (AUS)
Women's Round One Match-ups:
Heat 1: Courtney Conlogue (USA), Lakey Peterson (USA), Sage Erickson (USA)
Heat 2: Tyler Wright (AUS), Paige Hareb (NZL), Justine Dupont (FRA)
Heat 3: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Sarah Mason (NZL), Juliana Quint (BRA)
Heat 4: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Rebecca Woods (AUS), Melanie Bartels (HAW)
Heat 5: Carissa Moore (HAW), Coco Ho (HAW), Jacqueline Silva (BRA)
Heat 6: Laura Enever (AUS), Malia Manuel (HAW), Pauline Ado (FRA)
- Gabriel Medina Dominates at Lower Trestles
- Carissa Moore Wins ASP Billabong Pro Rio 2011
- Billabong Pro Rio website