The Nike U.S. Open of Surfing is hands down the biggest, craziest surfing spectacle the world over. This year, crowd attendance records were shattered, bands like Surfer Blood and MGMT put in top-flight performances, and the skating and BMX action was just outright insane.
Ten-time world champ Kelly Slater assumed his rightful top spot, Kolohe Andino came of age and Sally Fitzgibbons walked away with the third ASP World Tour win of her already stellar season. To top it all off, oogling teenyboppers hooted things like “Kolohe’s the Justin Bieber of surfing!”
The final day featured 17-year-old Kolohe -- who had spent the better part off the week proving that his time is now -- as he faced personal hero Dane Reynolds. The matchup was billed as the ultimate aerial dogfight. And it didn’t disappoint. The two traded waves and above-the-lip blows. Back and forth the heat went, and when the spray finally settled it was Andino that edged out Reynolds by a tenth of a point.
In the semifinal, the remnants of Hurricane Eugene were fading and the surf became a little less consistent. Unfortunately Kolohe wasn’t able to find any of the ramps and sections that had provided him with so much scoring opportunity previously.
“I just didn’t get the waves I needed,” said Kolohe, obviously disappointed with his loss but still relatively chipper considering how far he’d made it in the event. “It’s been a good experience; surfing in front of this kind of crowd has been amazing. Next I’m off to England with my family to have a go at the six-star.”
Meanwhile, on the ladies side of the draw, Sally Fitzgibbons and 2011 ASP World Champ Carissa Moore were doing work. By mid-morning on Sunday both were into the semifinals, Carissa eyeing her U.S. Open defense and Sally eager to add a third win to her record before the close of the 2011 ASP Season.
In the first semi Carissa was caught off-guard by a surging 16-year-old Lakey Peterson. Coming off of a win in the pro junior and a win over Carissa earlier in the event, Lakey was not to be denied.
“It’s disappointing to lose, for sure,” said Carissa. “But Lakey’s been surfing really well, and it’s good to see her pushing it. I would have liked to defend my title from last year and go back-to-back, but it just wasn’t in the cards I guess.”
On the other side of the draw, Sally faced Hawaii’s Coco Ho. It was a back-and-forth battle throughout much of the heat. The two girls went score for score until, with no time left on the clock, Sally found the wave she needed and was carried into the final.
In the final Sally opened up early, never really giving Lakey a chance to find her footing. She would never look back, and ultimately end her 2011 world tour season in the best way possible.
“Today was just about connecting the dots and stepping it up,” explained Sally after the awards ceremony. “I think the future is bright for our sport. Lakey is only 16 and she was in both finals in this event; it was a great week for her.”
“To get the win was an amazing way to cap off the year,” she continued. “It’s such an unbelievable feeling to get chaired up the beach. There is just a sea of people and it’s one of my biggest achievements. To get three wins this year… It has been a really special year and although I didn’t get the title, I can’t believe I’ve won this event.”
So for now, the sun has set on Huntington, the Goodyear blimp has sailed off to some other sporting event, the hordes of humans have all gone back to their respective corners (more than half a million rabid fans had wandered the sand when it was all said and done), and after a week of near chaos, all is quiet in Surf City.
Nike US Open of Surfing Men's Final Result
1. Kelly Slater (USA) 16.27
2. Yadin Nicol (AUS) 12.40
Nike US Open of Surfing Men's Semifinals Results:
SF1: Kelly Slater (USA) 17.94 def. Dusty Payne (HAW) 14.90
SF2: Yadin Nicol (AUS) 13.44 def. Kolohe Andino (USA) 12.87
Nike US Open of Surfing Men's Quarterfinals Results:
QF 1: Dusty Payne (HAW) 13.93 def. Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 10.10
QF 2: Kelly Slater (USA) 15.50 def. Taj Burrow (AUS) 15.27
QF 3: Kolohe Andino (USA) 10.44 def. Dane Reynolds (USA) 10.33
QF 4: Yadin Nicol (AUS) 11.60 def. Royden Bryson (ZAF) 8.26
Nike US Open of Surfing Women's Final Result:
1. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 14.23
2. Lakey Peterson (USA) 12.40
Nike US Open of Surfing Women's Semifinals Results:
SF 1: Lakey Peterson (USA) 14.67 def. Carissa Moore (HAW) 14.60
SF 2: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 14.46 def. Coco Ho (HAW) 14.16
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