A Day To Remember For Italian Surfing
Leo Fioravanti gives Italian surfing its moment in the sun at the Margaret River Pro.
Today, Italian wildcard Leo Fioravanti marked his incredible comeback from two broken vertebrae suffered during a wipeout at Pipeline last year to make the quarterfinals at the Margaret River Pro. The 19-year-old’s highest scoring ride required him to stare a submerged rock in the face as he hit the closeout section.
“I think that (injury) is completely out of my mind,” he said. “On my 6.7, bottom turning into my last turn, I saw the rock fully sticking out. I was like, ‘ohhhh… I’m just gonna go for it.’ And I hit the lip, and kinda nosedived, and I thought I was going to faceplant into the reef. Luckily I didn’t touch the reef but that rock is pretty dangerous, so you’ve gotta be careful. But at the same time, you’ve gotta give it the best you can.”
The elation was visible on the 19-year-old’s face as the siren sounded. His round four opponent Ace Buchan could only slap the water in anger as the heat went to Leo by a very narrow margin – 0.10 of a point – following a dramatic last second exchange.
“It’s tough because I fell off on a couple waves,” Leo laughed. “On my good ones I got a couple of good turns and fell on my last turn. Everybody had low scores – I mean, you saw the 0.10. That’s crazy, but I’ll take what I can get.”
His giant-killing run, which has included wins over Kelly Slater and reigning world champ, Adriano De Souza, ensures he’s far and away the greatest surfer ever to come out of Italy – a country situated in the docile Mediterranean Sea.
“I think this is the best result ever for an Italian,” Leo said, adding: “It’s really tough out there. I was waiting for the sets but they didn’t have much wall, so you’ve gotta find the ones with wall, surf them as good as you can and not fall off.”
The event is his second World Tour event, having competed at the Quiksilver Pro, France as a 15-year-old wildcard (he lost to Mick Fanning in round two). The result comes on the back of an ISA World Title earlier this year, just months after breaking his back. He told Stab that he’s planning to be a permanent fixture on the World Tour by next year.
“Now I’ve got the quarters, I’m still in the event, so I just need to keep it going. This year I really want to qualify and get on the world tour and hopefully next year be at Snapper and all the events on the world tour.”
In other results, Hawaiian Sebastian Zietz continued his stylish assault on Margs, defeating Brazilians Caio Ibelli and Italo Ferreira in round four to progress straight to the quarters. The man in the gold leader’s jersey, Matt Wilkinson, botched a crucial turn in tricky, howling-offshore conditions to lose narrowly to Joel Parkinson in round four, condemning him to the repechage heats. And Californian Kolohe Andino continued his strong, early-2016 form with a win over 2014 world champ Gabriel Medina, and Jordy Smith.
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