Steph Falls Off Her Horse, Andino Triumphs Over John, Gabs Potentially Spells End To Jules’ Career Outside Contest Area
Big-ish waves, sharp surfing and no shortage of drama on day 2 of the Olympic games.
Yesterday, surfing’s Olympic pool of competitors was reduced from 20 down to 16. Today, that number halved, with the head-to-head format leaving 8 winners and losers from the men’s and women’s draws. The day was filled with upsets and drama, with multiple lower-ranked surfers ousting the touted favourites in punchy two to three foot Tsurigasaki peaks.
Highlights include: Kolohe’s heat-sealing slob-grab air reverse and accompanying guillotine claim against John, and Kanoa’s samurai form in his heat against Rio Waida. Lowlights include: Jules’ last heat ever? And the two hour midday delay for the ISA’s Herringbone hat parade.
There were two peculiarities that were noteworthy today. Australia’s Olympic Surf team are known as the ‘The Irakundji’s’, a kind of highly poisonous jellyfish found in tropical North Queensland. The Aussie team fleshed out the gag with a pantomime of stinging noises and performances whenever their surfers hit the beach. To illustrate, one jellyfish stands in the middle of a circle, not unlike a reverse bukkake, and stings the surrounding ‘swimmers’ one-by-one til they lay dead on the floor. As it turns out the man responsible for inspiring this trend may have been Stab writer and Ain’t That Swell host Jed ‘Smivvy’ Smith.
The second peculiarity was the controversial end to Jules’ Olympic campaign following Gabs’ questionable 7.5 he scored way down the beach. Like way, way down the beach possibly outside the contest area. The Australian team submitted a formal protest to the ISA, but it was denied. “The claim was that Medina went out of the area on the north side a bit, but that does not result in any penalty, just the risk of not being scored properly,” an ISA representative told us.
Action wise, Steph Gilmore suffered the first surprise defeat of the morning, stung not by a jellyfish but by the electric backhand of South-African Bianca Buitendag. Bianca posted a 6.83 for two sharp snaps and quickly followed it up with three solid hits for a 7.10. The conditions look well-suited to goofy-footers with small pockets that favoured the shorter arc of the backside bottom-turn.
Mahina Maeda, the Jiu Jitsu blue-belt and World Junior Surfing Champion tried her best to strangle Caroline Marks using strategic, non-ballistic carves. Marks, not one to horse around drew her dagger, and stabbed the lip repeatedly to post an 8.0 and 7.33 for the biggest heat total of the morning.
Sofia Mulanovich is the unsung hero of the Olympics. The 38-year- old, 2004 World Champ came out of retirement to put on a valiant performance in the closing seconds of her Round 2 heat. Today she drew a tough hand against the 4x World Champ, Riss Moore, and came off second best, but not before showcasing an impressive albeit concerning vertebral stretch, with a shlick layback on a foamy closeout.
Tatiana-Weston Webb, was the final top seed to bow before a lower-rung competitor. She struggled to find a wave of substance, leaving the door open for the local girl, Amuro Tsuzuki to strut into finals day.
After a break from the action owing to the ISA’s aforementioned ceremony and a meeting with surfers and team managers, the men’s event got underway at the highly specific time of 1:18PM.
Kanoa kicked things off where he left them yesterday, fucking ripping. The kid looks unstoppable as he linked together two critical hacks and a fin-throw for the biggest score of the event so far, an 8. He backed it up with a 6.5 to pin Rio to the canvas in a commanding display of power. If I had money, I’d put it on him.
And holy Andino. The most anticipated heat of the day kicked off like a Japanese bullet train, with Kolohe stomping an enormous slob grab air reverse within the first minute. Punctuating his wave with a guillotine hand-motion, you had the foreboding sense the man with the superior knee joint would reign supreme. He did, and Team USA’s dinner tonight will be awkward.
Jules vs Gabby was tough to watch. Not because Jules doesn’t still rip, but because every time Gabs takes off on a wave it feels like he’ll produce a career-ending blow, and Jules’ competitive career is like, up in the air at the moment. Gabs’ two snaps for a 7.5 was questionable, but Jules needed to dig deeper into his bag of tricks. Easier said than done. We’ll still miss him, if this really is the end for him.
Italo spun and won over Billy Stairmaid, Hiroto won an incredibly boring heat over Miguel, Leo lost his board and then lost his heat, and O-doggy Wright gave the Irakundji’s something to cheer for with a win over French tube-pig Jez Flores.
My 23-year old perspective on the games thus far? Fucken oath it’s the Olympics. I’ll get behind that once every four years.
Right now, the schedule has men’s and women’s Quarters and Semis running tomorrow with the gold and bronze medal matches going down on Wednesday morning. But with a dying swell, word has it they might try to get it all done tomorrow. We’ll keep you posted.
Women’s Round Three
Heat One: B. Buitendag (13.93) DEF S. Gilmore (10.00)
Heat Two: Y. Hopkins (10.84) DEF J. Defay (9.40)
Heat Three: B. Hennessy (12.00) DEF E. Williams (7.73)
Heat Four: C. Marks (15.33) DEF M. Maeda (7.74)
Heat Five: C. Moore (10.34) DEF S. Mulanovich (9.90)
Heat Six: S. Lima (12.17) DEF T. Bonvalot (7.50)
Heat Seven: A. Tsuzuki (10.33) DEF T. Weston-Webb (9.00)
Heat Eight: S. Fitzgibbons (10.86) DEF P. Ado (9.03)
Men’s Round Three
Heat One: K. Igarashi (14.00) DEF R. Waida (12.00)
Heat Two: K. Andino (14.83) DEF J. Florence (11.60)
Heat Three: M. Bourez (12.43) DEF R Boukhiam (9.40)
Heat Four: G. Medina (14.33) DEF J. Wilson (13.00)
Heat Five: I. Ferreira (14.54) DEF B. Stairmand (9.67)
Heat Six: H. Ohhara (10.00) DEF M. Tudela (9.67)
Heat Seven: L. Mesinas (9.97) DEF L. Fioravanti (8.86)
Heat Eight: O. Wright (15.00) DEF J. Flores (12.90)
Heat One: B. Buitendag vs Y. Hopkins
Heat Two: B. Hennessy vs C. Marks
Heat Three: C. Moore vs S. Lima
Heat Four: A. Tsuzuki vs S. Fitzgibbons
Heat One: K. Igarashi vs K. Andino
Heat Two: G. Medina vs M. Bourez
Heat Three: I. Ferreira vs H. Ohhara
Heat Four: L. Mesinas vs O. Wright
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