Stab Magazine | Kanoa Igarashi Is Japan's World Tour And Olympic Future

Kanoa Igarashi Is Japan’s World Tour And Olympic Future

He’ll shed the stars and stripes for 2018 tour and 2020 Olympics. 

news // Feb 13, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Neck deep in ice dancing this weekend?

The Olympic hits just keep on coming.

When people talk about how the Olympic Games will affect the sport of surfing the default conversation is usually based on two things. First, the expansion of the sport (and potentially more overcrowding). “We don’t need more kooks,” the argument typically goes. Second, is the notion that, like a Phoenix from the ashes, the surf industry will rise again. “We can sell a lot of boardshorts,” is the most common utterance among our sport’s movers and shakers.

But some of the changes won’t be so obvious or all-encompassing. Case in point, Huntington Beach’s Kanoa Igarashi has just announced that he will spend the 2018 WSL Championship Tour season repping the Land of the Rising Sun and not the Red, White and Blue.

“I am going to be representing Japan this year on the Championship Tour,” said Igarashi in a prepared statement via the WSL media machine.

“I am proud to surf for Japan. My parents are Japanese, my whole family is Japanese. I have a lot of support and fans over there,” continued Igarashi. “We do not have any Japanese surfers on the CT, so it is something for them to cheer for and have that part in the WSL. I am sure they are really excited, and I am looking forward to it. My family is stoked.”

But, but, but, but what about all the people in California that supported him over the years? What about his years as a member of the U.S. National Surf team not all that long ago? What about your pad in Surf City?

Sure, Pottz surfed for the U.K. back when he was on tour, but he was trying to avoid the sanctions being imposed on the apartheid South African government.

Igarashi’s folks are Japanese citizens. He was born in Santa Monica and holds duel-citizenship. With surfing’s entrance into the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020, less than two short years away, he’s opted to align his future with Japan.

“I want to be able to compete in the Olympics and represent Japan,” continued Igarashi. “I grew up competing for USA and have a lot of support over here, but this is a different part of my career now. The Olympics is the greatest competition in all of sports and it is something that you dream of doing as a kid. I never thought it would be possible as a surfer. It is a really exciting time for surfing. I am going to do my best to represent surfing in the best way possible.”

Rumors around the U.S. surf program are that John John Florence, Kolohe Andino, Carissa Moore and Courtney Conlogue have been identified as the most likely representatives. If that’s the case, Igarashi’s move makes a lot of sense. It has the potential to open up a lot more career opportunities as Japan’s first full-time CT competitor and future Olympian.

Of course, this begs the question, are we going to see more Olympic-related defections anytime soon?


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