"This Is The Worst Judging I’ve Ever Seen" - Stab Mag

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“This Is The Worst Judging I’ve Ever Seen”

Gabriel Medina sounds off after Cole Houshmand wins brute backhand battle.

news // Mar 29, 2024
Words by August Howell
Reading Time: 3 minutes

You can read our full Premium coverage of Day 3 here

“This is the worst judging I’ve ever seen. It’s bad for the sport. I’ve been through a lot of judging things. But I feel like this is the worst one. But it’s something we’ve got to talk about. We pretend it’s not happening. It’s happening and it’s bad for the sport. Hopefully, it can improve and get better, hopefully, they listen more to us.”

Those were Gabriel Medina’s choice comments to Laura Evener on the glass after watching Cole Houshmand get the highest-scoring wave on the last ride of their Round of 32 matchup. It was a close finish (Cole’s 14.27 vs Gabriel’s 13.77), but the San Clemente man gave Gabriel his third 17th-place finish in four events this season. 

Gabriel looked in rhythm to start the backhand battle. Cole kept pace with him but wasn’t quite matching the Brazilian’s speed and variety. 

Midway through the heat, Gabriel launched a full rotation backside reverse. He got inverted, but it wasn’t super high and he had to fight the whitewater on the landing. The score didn’t improve either of his top two waves as the judges gave him a 6.3. 

Was Gabe undercooked?

After Gabriel’s air, Cole started to heat up, getting a 6.8 for several sharp snaps on a wave that fizzled on the inside. He was left needing a 6.98 to get past Gab in the waning minutes of the heat.

Here’s a breakdown of the final exchange: 

With 1:52 on the clock, Gabriel sat on the shoulder with priority and the lead, watching Cole stroke into one from the outside. Gab let Cole have the wave, because it was a smaller one for the heat (which Gabriel pointed out after), but Cole unloaded the clip with five solid turns. His first one sprayed Gabriel, and he followed it up with a series of diagonal snaps. 

“It was a fun heat. Honestly, I just wanted to go out there and try to do my best surfing and have fun with it,” Cole said. Aaron Hughes/WSL

Cole finished the wave, texted a shrug emoji to the judges, and was rewarded with a 7.47, the highest score of the heat. Thanks to the WSL’s new live rankings, we know that the win helped Cole leap five spots and (for now) above the mid-year cut line at No. 21 in the world. 

In a recent @stab IG story poll, 66% of respondents thought Medina should have won the heat over Cole. This situation comes just days after a recent WSL judging mishap, where many fans believed that George Pittar was unfairly eliminated by Ethan Ewing.

Not for the first time, Gabriel called out the judging in his post-heat interview. After the Surf Ranch event last year, Gabriel took to Instagram to air his grievances with inconsistencies while “rewarding very simple surfing, seamless transitions” as opposed to variety and progression.

This instance, however, he claims is “the worst one” he’s ever been involved in.

Who do you think won? Disqus (civilly) below. 

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