Stab Magazine | Kelly Slater's Injury Will Keep Him Out (Presumably) For The Remainder Of The Season

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Kelly Slater’s Injury Will Keep Him Out (Presumably) For The Remainder Of The Season

“Injuries aren’t by chance,” Kelly tells Stab.

news // Jul 21, 2017
Words by Morgan Williamson
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Year Zero, A.K (Life After Kelly) read the headline of longstanding surf writer, Sean Doherty’s “Doherty Report”. It was a brilliant line that held the gravitas of Kelly’s injury. “Life after Kelly”, especially for someone like me, born the same year Kelly won his first CT event (1990) and never got the chance to watch him play Jimmy Slade on Baywatch, is true. Kelly Slater is a four-and-a-half decade long miracle. He’s been there as long as I and nearly half the present tour have been surfing. Kanoa Igarashi’s umbilical cord was snipped the same year Slater won his 5th world title, 1997.

At the start of this season, Kelly declared he’d go for his number 12. Last year, after he won Chopes, finished in the quarters at Lowers and the semis at Pipe, even the doubters started to consider the possibility. While seven/eight years ago, the census was Kelly should retire, pass the torch and entreprenue. In the past four years, he’s done all that while remaining in the top ten. That cynicism (almost) universally changed to marvel. He’s a 34-year-old body living in a 45-year-old man. But, you know what he’s not? A 22-year-old body living in a 22-year-old man. Filipe Toledo is, however. The surfing he did at J-Bay was a display of power and progression that almost made us forget John Florence’s carves at Margaret River.

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This alley-oop was taken a few waves before the foot shattering closeout.

“Injuries aren’t by chance in my experience,” Kelly told Stab when he still thought he’d only be out for four-to-six weeks. “I’ve been a bit off in a lot of areas in life. Hopefully, I can sort through a bunch of those in this time off.”

This time off is now looking to be four-to-six months. And will, in turn, take him out for (most likely) the remainder of the season. Kelly’s said this will be his last year on tour and although we’ve heard that before – a few times – at 45 even with scoliosis and a shattered foot, the question beckons: Is he done?

As has been reported, prior to the injury, Kelly looked to be regaining form. J-Bay is the season’s midpoint and with good results at Chopes, France, Portugal, Pipe and divine intervention, Kelly’s slow start could have changed course. Instead, after Kelly’s injury, chaos ensued. It was like an omen seen by drones and broadcasted. There were shark delays, a boat rode the most impressive wave of the event and Filipe Toledo alley-ooped poor Jeffrey into submission. It was the wildest WCT event since Mick and shark of 2015.

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“I thought about jumping off,” commented Kelly on this wave that broke his foot, “but I drove deep inside and got hit by a shock-wave of whitewater which exploded back against the back of my board, and right foot.”

“I felt like I was building into my momentum. And with the growing swell, my confidence was growing,” Kelly continued over text. “That being said, a lot of great surfing has been going on and I would have to be on my game and picking the right waves. I was looking forward to surfing against Filipe. He’s been on fire it was a good chance to step up.”

So, is this the end of an era? Are the next six months a preview of the new world (tour) order? Or is this fuel for his competitive fire? 

We believe Kelly should be able to obtain a wildcard into any event on tour he pleases. Plus, we’ll undoubtedly see him in Fiji and Chopes for years to come. But, will a non-full-time commitment to the tour unlock a competitive success like a nothing-to-lose wildcard? Kelly Slater, in 2018 and beyond instead of being a title contender may become a title killer.

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