John Florence and Gabriel Medina Rocket Off Kona Wind Kickers - Stab Mag

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John Florence and Gabriel Medina Rocket Off Kona Wind Kickers

Three Pipeline champs and the 2023 SSOTY play chicken with their knee ligaments.

elsewhere // Feb 1, 2024
Words by August Howell
Reading Time: 2 minutes

2023 was the first time in five seasons that John Florence and Gabriel Medina both finished the CT calendar healthy. 

As much as I’d like to call this surfing’s biggest rivalry since AI vs Kelly, it’s hard to do so when neither of them has contended for the world title at the same time since 2017. John’s knees have sustained season-ending injuries from 2018-2022 (no 2020 season ‘cause covid) and he has yet to make the Final Five at Lowers. 

That being said, how can you not be glued to the screen when they’re sharing the lineup? 

Gabe and John have one Pipe Masters (we’re talking CTs here) crown each. In terms of all Hawaiian CT events, John has 43 heat wins across 16 comps and put up an average heat score of 14.15. Gabe has 37 heat wins in 12 Hawaiian contests (average heat score 13.01).

With both John and Gabriel missing the showdown at Lowers in September, one has to think at least one of them will have a serious crack for the title in 2024.

Above, we get a rare glimpse of Gabriel sans jersey mixing it up with John, Nathan Florence, Jack Robinson and Noah Beschan at Kona wind-blasted Pipeline and Backdoor. 

As we’ve seen time and again, (and at last year’s Vans Pipe Masters), John is just as adept doing full rotations on head-high ramps as he is parking his rear end on double-overhead cones. And Gabriel’s mastery on Johnny Cabianca’s blades, not often seen outside of competition, is made sweeter because it is so rare. 

“It was fun to have Nate, Noah, Gabriel and Jack out there in these conditions,” reads a text from John that pops up mid vid. “It’s cool to see how everyone’s approach changes with the air wind. There’s not so much ability to predict what each wave will do, so it kind of forces you to surf more on instinct and be reactive to the different sections that pop up.”

Might this session foreshadow more JJF + Gabriel freesurf clips in 2024? Might depend on their head-to-head record this year. Pray for matchups.

Jack keeping a Sharp Eye from above.

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